Skubalon!

Welcome back to Deeper Waters for our continuing Trinitarian commentary. It’s been our goal here to go through the Bible and see what we could find on the doctrine of the Trinity, and we are finding a lot of it! Right now, we’re in the book of Philippians and tonight, we’re going to look at the third chapter with verses 7-11:

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Paul has just got done listing his credentials in Judaism and showing that he disregards all of them. Everything is nothing compared to Christ. It is amazing how much he speaks of Christ in these verses. There is not mention of God in here except once. The center of Paul’s devotion has been Christ through whom he worships God. God is not removed entirely of course, but Christ is seen as the revelation of God through whom God is known.

He even considers everything else rubbish, which is where we get the title for tonight’s blog. The Greek word is skubalon. This is the only place in the NT that this word shows up and it is an extremely strong word. I have spoken to some people that even think you could insert an expletive for the word. Paul is wanting to use the strongest language he can to illustrate how worthless everything else is before Christ. (Add in the fun that when something goes wrong you can shout “Skubalon!” and hardly anyone has a clue what you’re saying.

Christ is also seen as the one through whom righteousness comes for Paul. In the Old Testament, righteousness came from YHWH and he was the righteous one. In the New Testament, we see this in Christ. Christ is so united with the Father that one cannot get righteousness apart from him. There is no righteousness of God that ultimately does not come through Christ.

What does Paul want to know? Paul wants to know Christ. He wants to know the power of the resurrection. He also wants to know the fellowship of his sufferings. These are strong words for an age where Word of Faith teachers emphasize physical healing as a sign of the favor of God. We don’t like to hear the message of suffering in America, but it is a reality. Paul knows that apart from this, he has no hope of resurrection to the new life.

Why does Paul think like this? Because he sees Christ as he is, fully God and fully man. Do we?

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