Philippians 3:21
who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.
Sermons
God Made Nothing VileCanon Miller.Philippians 3:21
The Body as it is and as it is to BeD. Moore, M. A.Philippians 3:21
The Body of Our HumiliationT. Lessey.Philippians 3:21
The Humiliation and Glorification of the BodyJ. Parsons.Philippians 3:21
The Power of Christ Illustrated by the ResurrectionC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:21
The Present Glory and Humiliation of the BodyCanon Miller.Philippians 3:21
The Raiser of the DeadCanon Liddon.Philippians 3:21
The Redemption of the BodyJabez Bunting, D. D.Philippians 3:21
The Renewal of the BodyV. Hutton Philippians 3:21
The Resurrection Body ChangedGotthold.Philippians 3:21
The Resurrection of the BodyR. Watson.Philippians 3:21
The Vile Body Made GloriousS. Martin.Philippians 3:21
Celestial CitizenshipR.M. Edgar Philippians 3:17-21
Contrasted Character's and DestiniesR. Finlayson Philippians 3:17-21
A Heavenly Mind HereBp. Huntington.Philippians 3:20-21
Christian CitizenshipR. Watson.Philippians 3:20-21
CitizenshipL. Shackleford.Philippians 3:20-21
Citizenship a RevealerR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 3:20-21
Citizenship and ConversationJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:20-21
Citizenship Detected by SpeechC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
Citizenship in HeavenC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
From Whence We Look for the SaviourC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
Heavenly CitizenshipJ. Daille.Philippians 3:20-21
Heavenly CitizenshipJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:20-21
Heavenly CitizenshipA. Roberts, M. A.Philippians 3:20-21
Heavenly CitizenshipJ. Daille.Philippians 3:20-21
Our Conversation in HeavenJ. Neiling.Philippians 3:20-21
Our Heavenly CitizenshipV. Hutton Philippians 3:20, 21
Our Heavenly CitizenshipJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:20-21
Preparing for HomeC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
The Attractions of HeavenJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:20-21
The Blessedness of the ChristlyD. Thomas Philippians 3:20, 21
The Certificate of HomeSunday at HomePhilippians 3:20-21
The Characteristics of the True ChristianW. Jay.Philippians 3:20-21
The Christian's CountryA. Mackennal, D. D.Philippians 3:20-21
The Christian's Relation to the Heavenly WorldT. Lessey.Philippians 3:20-21
The Citizenship and the HopeC. Neat.Philippians 3:20-21
The Citizenship Maintained by Communications with the Mother CountryC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
The Happiness of a Heavenly ConversationArchbp. Tillotson.Philippians 3:20-21
The Heavenly CitizenshipJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:20-21
The Heavenly Citizenship and its Blessed ExpectationsT. Croskery Philippians 3:20, 21
The Influence of Heavenly MindednessJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 3:20-21
The Manifestation of the CitizenshipC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:20-21
The Perfect LifeA. F. Muir, M. A.Philippians 3:20-21
The True ChristianJ. Stark.Philippians 3:20-21

I. OUR BODY IS A MARK OF OUR HUMILIATION. It is "the body of our humiliation," not "our vile body," as the Authorized Version has it. St. Paul did not share the Stoic contempt for the body; much less did he anticipate the Manichcan hatred of it which is the true parent of asceticism. But neither did he altogether admire the body in its present condition, as the disciples of our modern school of carnal aestheticism glory in doing. He regarded it as a great evidence of our humiliation. His words give little warrant for Origen's strange doctrine that pre-existing human souls, having sinned and fallen in a purely spiritual sphere, were imprisoned in bodies for their punishment and discipline, and that, if they profit by the purgatorial earthly life, they will be liberated from these bodies and restored to the spiritual world. Two simpler facts come nearer to the teaching of St. Paul.

1. We have outgrown our body. The body which is glorious in the animal becomes in many respects a hindrance and a source of shame to the man. The fact that the body, so fearfully and wonderfully made, is a mark of humiliation, proves that we have a higher nature and belong to nobler living.

2. We have degraded our body. By making that a master which should be a servant we show our own humiliation. By lowering the body itself to sinful ends we turn it into a visible proof of our degradation.

II. WE NEED A SUITABLE BODY. The body will not simply be cast aside as a worthless thing, like the old skin sloughed off by the serpent. It is a work of God who made all things well. It has great purposes to serve, for it is our medium of communication with the external world. A disembodied spirit is an insulated spirit. By means of the body we receive information from without, and we also execute our will on things outside us. The scholar must have eyes and ears as well as an attentive mind; and the workman must have muscular arms and deft fingers as well as good plans and aims. Probably we shall always need some sort of body, stone sort of medium through which to receive knowledge and accomplish actions.

III. CHRIST WILL FASHION OUR BODY ANEW. The gospel comes to man as a whole, body and soul; and it offers salvation to both parts of his nature. It begins the double process on earth. Christ healed the sick. Christianity cares for the bodily condition of men. The hospital is a most Christian institution. By ameliorating the sanitary condition of men we indirectly help even their moral and spiritual life. Hereafter a bodily renewal is to be accomplished. What it shall be we cannot tell. But the distinct teaching of the New Testament is that the resurrection will not revive the body as we now have it. We are to be "changed," to have a spiritual body; what is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption. Christ's risen body is the type of this. We may be assured that all that is humiliating and provocative of evil will vanish, while greater sensitiveness and flexibility in ministering to the soul and responding to its ideas and volitions will be enjoyed. - W.F.A.







Who shall change our vile body
I. OUR PRESENT STATE OF EXISTENCE IS ONE OF MUCH HUMILIATION. We are in vile bodies —

1. If you remember their origin. They are formed from the earth. We are indeed "curiously wrought," and exhibit proofs of the goodness, wisdom, and power of God; but let the body be analyzed, and decomposed, and wherein does it differ from the dust we despise? "God knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are dust." What a fine lesson of humility is here.

2. Our bodies are tainted with sin and therefore vile. Always connect with the meanness of your origin the idea that you are infected with iniquity. We have unclean bodies which are the prisons of our souls. You have but to reflect on your proneness to impurity, to forgetfulness of God, and what but for Adam's fall you might have been, to warrant your saying "behold I am vile."

3. Our bodies are exposed to sickness, and destined to death. "Thou shalt eat bread in sorrow till thou return to the ground." All this is true of all, and yet how many try to hide it in the elaborate trickery of dress and the disgraceful vanities of the age. The body is only valuable as the casket of an inestimable jewel.

II. THE ENNOBLING CHANGE WHICH SHALL PASS ON THAT WHICH IS HOW SUBJECT TO HUMILIATION. It is not intended for our state of vileness to last. To shut out as infidels do the prospects of futurity is an act of unparalleled madness. In the gospel life and immortality are brought to light. But the specific hope of the text is not for those who are "enemies of the Cross," etc., but for those who "count all things loss," etc.

1. The time when this great and ennobling change is to occur. At the coming of Christ at the general resurrection; when the universe shall sink in years, the elements melt with fervent heat, when the last moment of time shall pass, and the whole of our race be assembled.

2. The precise nature of this change — like unto the Saviour's glorious body.(1) In spirituality. The earthliness of our bodies will be removed, and made light and buoyant, no more gross and material; "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."(2) In holiness. On earth He was "holy, harmless, undefiled" and is so now. None can enter heaven without holiness: therefore our bodies will be purged of sin.(3) In immortality. "Christ being raised from the dead dicta no more." "Because I live, ye shall live also." The immortal Saviour shall reign over an immortal people.

3. The specific agency by which this great change shall be effected.(1) By Him whom we call Lord and God. If there be any who are ready to take Him down from His Divine elevation let them mark this Divine prerogative. "As the Father raiseth up the dead," etc. (Romans 14:9).(2) By His mighty power. What power must he have who raises the dead?(3) The particular principle is that by which He is able to subdue all things.

III. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THIS CHANCE OUGHT TO BE MADE A MATTER OF JOYFUL EXPECTATION. The great sin of men is not looking forward. For time they are ready to give all; for eternity nothing. But we Christians look for the coming of Christ —

1. As we hate sin, because we shall then be perfectly holy.

2. As we desire communion with God, because we shall see Him as He is, and be made like Him.

3. As we wish to arrive at the true grandeur and perfection of our nature, because we shall be changed into the image of moral beauty.

4. As we desire the perfect triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom, because then all things shall be put under His feet.

5. As we desire a meeting with all the great and good, because then we shall rejoice in an association with the family of God forever.

(J. Parsons.)

The word "vile," in ordinary usage, represents that which is mean and despicable. This is not the thought of the Apostle Paul. The substance of the body is not in itself vile. There is nothing vile in the elements of the human frame or in their combination. The construction of the body is not vile. There is so much of Divine design, wisdom, and skill displayed in every part of the human body, that the attributes of the Creator seem to be enthroned or enshrined in it. The uses of the body are not vile, so far, at least, as the body is rightly used, and the members are instruments of righteousness unto God. It is not Paul's habit to speak in contempt of the human frame. The body is, nevertheless, as the subject of disease and infirmity, as sustained by toil and by the sweat of the brow, as appointed to die, and as liable to the motions of sin, in a state of debasement. It is in a state of humiliation.

I. THE CHANGE HERE PREDICTED.

1. The transformation in substance. This will consist in the change of the present natural material, to what the apostle calls "spiritual." There is almost a contradiction involved in speaking of any substance as being spiritual, but we see very many changes in the substance of nature which are very like a change from that which is grossly material, to that which is refined and spiritual. Take, say, a lump of rough ice. Apply heat to it; and the change effected is to water. The material is nearer the spiritual as water than it was as ice. Continue to apply heat to this melted ice, and you get from it a cloud of vapour floating in the air. Here is something kindred to the change of that which is material into that which is spiritual, and, perhaps, the change of which the text speaks is of this kind or of this class. Or take, say, a grain of wheat and drop it into the ground; it germinates; and presently it comes up to a beauteous blade. How much more like the spiritual is that green spiritual blade, than the hard, cold, apparently lifeless thing called a seed which you cast into the ground? "Flesh and blood," we are told, "cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Of these qualities we may mention strength. How little, in certain aspects, the body can bear I Compared with the spirits of some men how weak is the body. God Himself is clothed with activity, is ceaselessly active. Those who are redeemed to God by Jesus Christ are saved from morbid inactivity. There is as strong a desire to do, as there is to be and to enjoy. Now, to have a body that will endure this doing, because constituted of a material that will never wear, and that will never waste! Oh, how glorious will this be!(1) The transformation, so far as the substance is concerned, will be from a wasting material to a permanent substance. We all know that our bodies are now constituted on the principle of waste and repair. The future body will not be based on this arrangement.(2) The transformation will be from a corruptible substance to an incorruptible — from a substance exposed to many ills, to a substance the heir only to vigour and to pleasure.

2. The change in the form may be gathered from Revelation 1:13. The transformation will be from the mixture of comeliness and uncomeliness to perfect purity — from heaviness to lightness and agility — from dwarfishness or overgrowth to perfect stature — from the expression which sin and sorrow give to the human countenance unto the expression of perfect righteousness and of fulness of joy. Now all this is involved in the words, "fashioned like unto His glorious body." The body of the Lord Jesus Christ is a body that HIS Father thinks worthy of Him. It is a body suited to His dignity as King of kings, to the glorious city over which He reigns, and which harmonizes with all that is sublime and beauteous there. And when our bodies shall be fashioned like it what a change this will be; like that between the colours on a painter's palette, and the picture on the canvas, yet not like because infinitely surpassing it, or as the change which passes over the earth, when the winter is gone and the time of the singing of birds is come.

II. JESUS CHRIST WILL BE THE TRANSFORMER. The Redeemer has taken us men entirely in hand to do everything for us. We want a sacrifice, a righteous standing with God, regeneration, teaching, comfort in tribulation, victory in battle, and He provides them all. In the text Christ is doing our part of His work for us. He has already transformed our spirits, and will in due time change our bodies. The tendency of this working is to subdue everything to His purpose, so that all things may have this one issue — the working out of a complete salvation. The text exhibits —

I. The resources of Christ. He literally can do everything for you. Inwardly you are His workmanship, for you are newly created in Him; but more still will be done, even the transformation. Will you not, then, look more constantly to Christ? You cannot look to Him too much. He delights in your cherishing large expectations.

2. The completeness of redemption. Christ takes the body into His redeeming hand, He changes that, and He makes that perfect. Why not trust Him to perfect all that concerneth you?

3. The future glory of the saints. What is there involving dignity, or pleasure, or joy, that is not provided for in that Father's house to which the Saviour has gone that He may prepare a place for us.

4. One great object of the Christian's hope. The existence of hope in our nature is an illustration of the goodness of God. We double our sorrows by our fears. But what shall we say of the effect upon our joys of hope? We enjoy some promised or coming blessing, over, and over, and over again, long before it reaches our hands. Weary in this pilgrimage of life, whither are the weary steps which you are taking today carrying you? Every step carries you nearer home. Every pain tells that the hour is near in which the Lord Jesus Christ "shall change the body of your humiliation." Wait a little, and your redemption will be consummated, and it will be as though you had never known a fallen world like this, and a humbled nature like this.

(S. Martin.)

I. THE SUBJECT OF THE PROCESS. In our present fallen state the bodies, even of the saints, exhibit marks of degradation, and furnish the causes by which that degradation is manifested.

1. Our bodies, as they were created, so are they now supported, by nutriment derived from the earth on which we tread.

2. They are liable to be painfully affected by various elements and agencies of physical nature.

3. They are subject to manifold injuries, and sufferings, and diseases.

4. They are ultimately destined to return to the dust from whence they were taken.

5. On these accounts, and with a tacit comparison of what the body is with what it was, with what it would have been, if sin had not marred it — and with what it shall be — that the apostle terms it the body of our humiliation, but too sadly in keeping with the fallen and degraded soul, till renewed by the grace of the Almighty Spirit.

II. THE PROCESS.

1. Not an absolute change, but a transformation and modification. This presupposes and implies the doctrine of the resurrection.

2. The model, according to which this change is accomplished, is nothing less than the glorified humanity of Christ.

III. THE AGENCY. Surely He who made that which was not can make that which has been to be again. And, therefore, the text refers us to the Omnipotence of God. So wondrous a change is only explicable on the hypothesis of miracle.

IV. THE LESSONS. The doctrine is —

1. Highly illustrative of the glory of the Divine attributes.(1) How glorious will be that wisdom, which, through all the mutations of time shall keep its eye upon those integral and ultimate parts of the human body, which are essential to its identity, through all their various transitions, and which will collect those scattered particles and recombine them into a beauteous frame.(2) How glorious that power which will accomplish that purpose.(3) How glorious that justice which will sooner or later render to every man in his body according to what he hath done.(4) How glorious that mercy which first makes men saints and constitutes them citizens of heaven, and finally admits them to the city of which they are made free by grace.

2. Calls upon us to remember and recognize with devout gratitude our special obligation to the Christian revelation, which brings this "life" and this "immortality," not only of the spirit but of the body, "to light."

3. Furnishes a powerful motive to submission when we are called upon to suffer bodily infirmity.

4. Affords an antidote against the tormenting fear of death for ourselves in ordinary life, and in the common process of human decay and mortality, as well as a strong consolation on the occasion of the removal of our beloved friends from time to eternity.

5. Shows us the fitness and propriety of that decent and reverential respect, which in Christian lands is ordinarily paid to the interment even of the mortal remains of departed and glorified friends?

6. Ought to convince us of the necessity of glorifying God with our bodies as well as our spirits.

(Jabez Bunting, D. D.)

I. OUR SINFUL CONDITION. Our body is a humble one.

1. Because of its sin, which brought all evil into the world.

2. Because of the immense labour that is necessary to supply its wants, abridging the time for intellectual and religious pursuits, and that only to feed that which will die.

3. As a hindrance to the richest feelings of which the heart is capable.

4. As doomed to die, and to inflict the keenest pain on beloved survivors.

II. THE GLORIOUS SCENE WHICH IS PECULIAR TO CHRISTIANITY.

1. The fact of the resurrection. This identical body shall rise. We cannot say in what that identity consists. The body often changes its substance, but its identity abides. If only a similar body there were no resurrection, only a new creation. We depend, however, on scriptural proof.(1) The resurrection of Christ. "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept."(2) The extent of redemption, which includes the body. "Ye are not your own," etc. "We wait for the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body." Christ cannot lose His own.(3) Both body and soul have sinned or wrought righteousness, hence both body and soul must be rewarded or punished.(4) The application of the term "sleep" to death — which cannot refer to the soul; hence, death is the body collecting new vigour for the morning of the resurrection.(5) The great designation of Christ. "He must reign...the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

2. At the resurrection there shall be a transformation of the bodies of the saints. What does it imply.(1) That there shall be no more death, Christ dieth no more, nor His.(2) Conformity to the body of Christ means no more deformity. Deformity in the countenance is sometimes the effect of sin, sometimes of accident: but there will be no more of either.(3) Excessive care, necessary for the support of the body, shall then exist no more.(4) The body will no more be a hindrance, but an assistant to the operations of the spirit.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS IS TO BE EFFECTED. Doubtless the apostle introduced this to answer all objections. The whole is a miracle, but God makes miracles as great every day.

(R. Watson.)

I. THE BODY AS IT IS.

1. In regard to its dignity.(1) For this we must go back to its creation.

(a)It is represented as a mass of unorganized matter.

(b)Then it became an organized body.

(c)After that breath is infused into it and it became an animated substance. The latter element imparts to the human system surpassing worth.(2) Dignity is imparted to the body in the process of redemption.

(a)It has become a sanctified thing through the incarnation. Christ could touch nothing that He did not ennoble.

(b)It has a dignity arising from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

(c)There are direct intimations that the body stands in a certain relation to mediatorial designs and purposes, and that Christ requires it for the advancement of His kingdom.Glorify God in your body; "Present your bodies a living sacrifice; The body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." For most of its operations the mind requires the assistance of the body, and anatomists say that the very structure of our frames is such as presupposes their being used for the carrying out of mental objects and inventions. But the body was intended of God to be the handmaid in higher departments, to be the servant of the renewed will, and the will of the true disciple moves only in obedience to the will of his Master. So Christ speaks through His servant's mouth, works through his hands, controls his eye and ear lest they run after vanity, lifts up the feet on their mission of mercy and love.(3) All this shows why the apostle insists not only that we should have "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," but also that we should have "our bodies washed with pure water," for in baptism the, body is made a consecrated thing.

2. In regard to its humiliation. It is humbled —(1) On account of our moral degeneracy and the curse entailed thereby. Every pain, disease, mark of old age, grave, remind us of this.(2) Because it is the seat of sin. Hence the expression "body of this death," and the necessity of keeping the body under.(3) In consequence of the labour and pain required to provide for its wants.(4) In that it is a hindrance to the soul's powers.

II. THE BODY AS IT IS TO BE. The apostle uses the word "transfigure," perhaps, with a designed reference to the glorious splendours of the Mount of Transfiguration.

III. PRACTICAL RESULTS.

1. The essential, inalienable sanctity of the body as a member of Christ and a temple of His spirit.

2. The folly and sin of undue carefulness in regard to bodily necessities.

3. The needlessness of the fear of death.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

The whole of our life is interwoven with the life of Christ. His first coming has been to us salvation. We live still because He lives. The completion of our salvation in the deliverance of our body from the bondage of corruption is wrapped up in His personal resurrection and quickening power.

I. THE MARVEL WHICH IS TO BE WROUGHT BY OUR LORD AT HIS COMING.

1. He will change the body in which our humiliation is manifested and enclosed, and will transform it until it is like the body in which He enjoys and reveals His glory. Three times human eyes have seen something of the body of glory — in the face of Moses, after his forty days' communion; in the transfiguration of Christ; in the angel face of Stephen.

2. Turning to 1 Corinthians 15 we learn —(1) That the body is corruptible, subject to decay; but the new body shall be incorruptible. For the immortal spirit it shall be the immortal companion.(2) It is sown in weakness, weak to perform our will, weaker still to perform God's, weak to do and to suffer; but it is to be raised in power and be made like unto the angels who excel in strength.(3) It is a natural or soulish body — a body fit for the soul, for the lowest faculties of our mental nature; but it will be raised a spiritual body, adapted to the noblest portion of our nature, suitable for the highest aspirations of perfected humanity.(4) It is sinful, its members have been instruments of unrighteousness. It is true it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, but there are traces about it of the time when it was a den of thieves. But it awaits the time when it shall be perfectly sinless.(5) Being sinless it shall be painless. Truly, we who are in this tabernacle do groan. Up yonder the rod shall no longer chasten, the faultiness being removed.(6) The spiritual body will not need to sleep, for it will serve God day and night in His temple without weariness.(7) It will be perfect. If the saints have lost a sense or a limb or are halt or maimed they will not be so in heaven, for as to body and soul "they are without fault before the throne of God." "We shall be like Him," therefore beautiful.

3. The miracle will be amazing if you view it as occurring to those who shall be alive when Christ comes. Reflect, however, that most will be in their graves, and of many all trace will have disappeared.

4. By what possibility then can the self same bodies be raised? I answer, it needs a miracle to make any of these dry bones live, and a miracle being granted impossibility vanishes. He who formed each atom from nothing can gather each particle from confusion.

II. THIS POWER WHICH IS TO RAISE THE DEAD IS RESIDENT IN CHRIST AT THIS MOMENT. It is not some new power which Christ will take in the latter days.

1. This power is ascribed to Christ as the Saviour, and it is precisely in that capacity that we need the exercise of His power at this moment. How large, then, may be our expectations for the conversion of men. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. If as Saviour He will wake the dead, He can now quicken the spiritually dead. Your own regeneration was as remarkable an instance of Divine power as the resurrection will be.

2. Opposition may be expected to this power, but that resistance will be overcome. There will be no resistance to the resurrection, but to the spiritual there is prejudice, hatred of Christ, sinful preferences, etc. But "He is able to subdue all things unto Himself."

3. The text includes all supposable cases. Not here and there one, but all things. No man is so fallen but Jesus can save him.

4. Nothing is said concerning the unfitness of the means. The text obliterates man altogether. Jesus can and will do it all.

5. The ability is present with the Saviour. He is as strong now as He ever will be, for He changes not.

6. The text suggests a parallel between the resurrection and the subduing of all things.(1) All men are dead in sin, but He can raise them; many corrupt with vice, but He can transform them; some lost to hope as though their bodies were scattered to the winds — but He who raises the dead of all sorts can raise sinners of all sorts by the self same power.(2) As the dead are to be made like unto Christ, so the wicked when converted are made like Him. Brilliant examples of virtue shall be found in those who were terrible instances of vice.

III. THE WORK WHICH WE DESIRE TO SEE ACCOMPLISHED. The Saviour subduing souls, not to our way of thinking, to our Church, to the honour of our powers of persuasion, but "unto Himself."

1. This subjection is eminently desirable since it consists in transformation.

2. To be subjected to Christ is to be fitted for heaven.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

St. Paul had been speaking of some whose interests were centred in earthly things. Of them he says that their end is destruction, etc. And in contrast with this way of passing life he describes the life of Christ's true servants. Their citizenship is in heaven. They are in the position of emigrants for whom the friendly government of a colony should provide, before their arrival at their destined country, a home and a rest. Heaven, then, as being already their country, naturally occupies a first place in their thoughts; but they cannot set foot in it until a great change has passed over them. It is upon this change, and upon the person of Him who is to effect it, that their eyes are naturally and constantly fixed while the present scene lasts.

I. THE NATURE OF THE CHANGE referred to.

1. The human body in its present stage of existence. "Our body of humiliation." The human frame appeared to the Greek artist the most beautiful thing in nature. It was the form which seemed to the Greeks most nearly to unveil the Divine beauty to the eye of sense. How impossible to imagine the phrase of the apostle upon the lips of the men who decorated the Parthenon! It implies that the man who uses it has seen deeper and higher than the realm of sense. The Greek knew only this visible world, and he made the most of it. The Hebrew had had a revelation of a higher beauty; and when men have come into contact with the Eternal, they sit lightly to the things of time. The Greek was occupied with the matchless outline of the human form. The Hebrew could not forget that his bodily eye rested after all on a perishable mass of animated clay (Isaiah 40:6-7; Psalm 90:5-6; Job 14:1-2; James 4:14).

2. Not that the phrase implies any one-sided depreciation of the body such as we meet with in heathen ascetics. Christianity on this subject keeps strictly a middle way between two opposite errors. On the one hand, the body has seemed to some to be man's all in all. just as it has to some of our modern materialists; and then it has been supposed that life either ceased altogether with death, or was, after death, so attenuated down into a purely shadowy existence as to lose all the importance which belongs to reality. And, on the other hand, the body has been treated as a mere incumbrance, having no true inherent relation to the complete life of man — the soul's prison house — the degrading fetter which binds noble spirits down to the soil of earth — the mere instrument of a being who is complete without it, and who is never free, never himself, till he is delivered from it. And the effect, the moral effect, of the first of these opinions is certainly, upon the whole, to encourage unbounded sensual indulgence, and, of the second, to encourage suicide, since, if the alliance between soul and body is so disadvantageous and so unnatural, the sooner it is put an end to the better.

3. Between these opposite exaggerations revelation holds on a middle course. Death is the disturbance of that union of soul and body which constitutes man; and this irregular interruption of the true life of man ends at the resurrection, when man re-enters upon the normal conditions of his complete being.

4. And yet, masterful as the body is, it is not the governing element in human nature. Man is something higher, nobler, than the animal form with which he is so intimately identified. Man lives on the frontier of two vast mysterious worlds — the world of pure spirit and the world of animal existence. Our nature as a whole, has been ennobled as well as invigorated by the Son of God. He has taken body and soul alike, and joined it by an indissoluble union to His own eternal person. His body exists at the right hand of God, and thereby it confers a patent of nobility of which our race can never be deprived. And yet, while this life lasts, how great is the interval between our condition and His! How unlike to ours is the body of glory which rose from the tomb in its indescribable beauty, in its freedom of movement, in its inaccessibility to decay, in its spirituality of texture!

5. "His glorious body!" Christ's greatest gift is yet to come. We shall die as do the creatures around us; whether by violence or by slow decay. But He will gather up what death has left, and will transfigure it with the splendours of a new life (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

II. THE GROUND OF THE GREAT CHRISTIAN EXPECTATION OF A GLORIFIED BODY IN A FUTURE LIFE. How shall we get it? "According to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."

1. Everything of course depends on that. St. Paul had no doubt that Jesus Christ, crucified some thirty years before, was living and reigning and had actual jurisdiction over all things in heaven and earth.

2. It seems very strange to many that the elements of the human frame resolved into dust many centuries ago should be recollected and endowed with a new and more glorious life. What has become of the particles; they have passed through animals and vegetables, and by this time are scattered in a thousand directions. How are they to be rescued from this oft repeated appropriation. It is an astonishing exertion of superhuman power which is under consideration, but it is not more than any reasonable believer in God would assent to upon sufficient evidence of His declared will. No man can believe in God, without believing in an act of power, compared with which the resurrection of the dead is a trivial incident. To believe in God is to believe in the original creation of all things out of nothing, and creation is, after all, the great miracle. And the man who believes it will not question God's Word merely because the results to which it is pledged are what we call miraculous. By the very act of believing in God he believes in an initial miracle, compared with which all that can possibly follow is insignificant.

III. SUCH A FAITH AS THIS IN THE RESURRECTION MUST HAVE GREAT CONSEQUENCES.

1. If we parted company with the body at death for good and all, it would not matter much what was done with this perishing husk. But if this body of humiliation has before it a splendid destiny, then we shall treat it in life and in death as princes are treated who live in expectation of a throne — with all the care and honour that its prospects demand. And hence, after death, respect for the human body is a natural result of Christian belief in the resurrection. Just as the body of the Lord Jesus was carefully wrapped in fine linen and laid in a tomb until the morn of Easter, so, ever since, the bodies of departed Christian believers have been looked upon with eyes conveying something of the faith, something of the love, of Nicodemus and Joseph. We know that they, too, will rise. We know that we are not handling a lump of decaying matter which has lost its interest forever, and which will presently be resolved into its chemical constituents to be recombined no more. It lies before us, there in very truth, a body of humiliation. But one day — we are certain of it — it is to be fashioned like the glorious body of the ascended Son of God, and we treat it accordingly.

2. Much more important is our duty to the body during life.(1) Guard it. You who are well off do what you can for the bodies of the poor. They, too, will rise. Let us all keep our bodies in temperance and chastity, from all that would bar entrance to the presence of Christ. Every man that hath the resurrection hope in him purifieth himself as Christ is pure. Do not forget how this sinful body may even here be made clean by Christ's body, just as the soul may be washed with His most precious blood.(2) Train it, not as a mere beautiful human frame, but as a future partaker in those scenes of transcendent joy and worship which are described in the Apocalypse. "Present your bodies," says the apostle, "a living sacrifice" — in works certainly, and in that best of all kinds of work — in worship. Worship, including bodily reverence, as well as spiritual communion, is a direct preparation for heaven. The body, which never bends here before the Being of beings, is not likely to be joined to a spirit that has really learnt to hold communion with the Holy and the Infinite. In such matters as this Christian instinct is far better than argument. When eternity is once treated by a man as a practical reality, he is likely very soon to make up his mind how to bear himself among the things of time.

(Canon Liddon.)

Clothe that body in purple and fine linen; array it in royal robes; deck it with a kingly diadem; place it on a throne; give it the sceptre of dominion; let nations bow at his feet — it is "a vile body:" and Herod, while all the crowd were calling him a god, felt that he was one of the vilest of men. Animate that body with genius; light up that countenance with a flow of lofty spirit; let an intellectual nature beam out from those eyes; let deep thought work beneath that brow, and a towering spirit move those muscles — still the body is "vile;" and in the midst of the astonishing lucubrations of the indwelling spirit, it may sink into the loathesomeness of corruption. Nay, what is better, adorn the indwelling spirit with power; let the soul be redeemed and regenerated and sanctified and impressed with God's image; let a soul born for glory look out through that face; let that body be the charge of angelic guardians; let that body be the temple of the Holy Ghost; let that body be sacred; let that body be associated with all that is estimable in the human character, with all that is dear and tender in social life; let that body attract wherever it moves — it is "a vile body," liable to fall in a moment. It may be seized with the pangs of anguish, and in an instant be deprived of its indwelling spirit and left to loathesomeness and corruption. "A vile body." We have all vile bodies — bodies of humiliation. Pride was not made for man — that is clear: pride will not do for man: "Man that is born of woman is of few days, and fall of trouble."

(T. Lessey.)

When Archbishop Whately was dying his chaplain read to him, among other scriptures, the words before us, but with his wonted clearness the great man interrupted the reader, saying, "No; the body of our humiliation, not our vile body. God made nothing vile."

(Canon Miller.)

If you take man's body in some of its aspects it is a noble thing. Surely there are marks of design upon it which speak of its Divine origin. Consider the marvellous mechanism of respiration and the circulation of the blood. Trace that network of arteries and veins. Note how the eye and the hand have been singled out as leading to the conclusion of the existence of a God. Mark every joint and every limb. Take our physical nature as you see it in its fair beauty in slumbering infancy. Look at the maiden in the first blush of her beauty or the matron in that beauty's maturity, and then tell me if the body is not a beautiful thing; whether the contemplation of its out ward aspect or its interior mechanism be not a study for our wonder and admiration. But we turn to the other side and hear Paul speaking of it as a mere tent, which is to be taken down, and we turn to the last passage of the preacher of the Old Testament, and there we have a wonderful description so exquisite with its imagery and poetry of the day, "when the keepers of the house shall tremble," etc., which sets forth the sinking and failing powers of old age. But if we want to see the humbling side of this body of ours we must listen to Abraham whose wife's beauty had once been so great. She was so fair a woman that he was induced to lie for her, and yet a few years later from the same Abraham comes the piteous appeal, "Give me a burying place that I may bury my dead out of my sight" — the same fair, beloved Sarah. And in order, further, that we may see that this body is indeed a body of humiliation, listen to those words which go home to our hearts as we read them — "Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days."

(Canon Miller.)

And so paper — that article so useful in human life, that repository of all the arts and sciences, that minister of all governments, that broker in all trade and commerce, that second memory of the human mind, that stable pillar of an immortal name — takes its origin from vile rags! The rag dealer trudges on foot or drives his cart through the towns and villages, and his arrival is the signal for searching every corner and gathering every old and useless shred. These he takes to the mill, and there they are picked, washed, mashed, shaped, and sized — in short, formed into a fabric beautiful enough to venture unabashed even into the presence of monarchs and princes. This reminds me of the resurrection of my mortal body. When deserted by the soul, I know not what better the body is than a worn and rejected rag. Accordingly, it is buried in the earth, and there gnawed by worms and reduced to dust and ashes. If, however, man's art and device can produce so pure and white a fabric as paper from filthy rags, what should hinder God by His mighty power to raise this vile body of mine from the grave, and refine and fashion it like unto the glorious body of the Lord Jesus Christ?

(Gotthold.).

Links
Philippians 3:21 NIV
Philippians 3:21 NLT
Philippians 3:21 ESV
Philippians 3:21 NASB
Philippians 3:21 KJV

Philippians 3:21 Bible Apps
Philippians 3:21 Parallel
Philippians 3:21 Biblia Paralela
Philippians 3:21 Chinese Bible
Philippians 3:21 French Bible
Philippians 3:21 German Bible

Philippians 3:21 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Philippians 3:20
Top of Page
Top of Page