The Faith Journey Of Paul: An Exegetical Analysis Of Philippians 3:1-14 -- By: Dan Lioy
Conspectus 7:1 (March 2009) p. 81
The Faith Journey Of Paul: An Exegetical Analysis Of Philippians 3:1-14
This journal article examines the faith journey of Paul, specifically as it is delineated in Philippians 3:1-14. Verses 1-6 reveal that in the past, before he put his faith in Christ, Paul trusted in his human attainments. According to verses 7-11, after Paul encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, the apostle made growing in the knowledge of Christ the central focus of his existence in the here-and-now. Finally, in verses 12-14, it is disclosed that Paul set his sights on increasing in Christlikeness. Based on the sports analogy of athletes running in a race, Paul explained that following Christ requires unrelenting dedication and perseverance on the part of believers. This involves doing the following: (a) putting our past—with all its shortcomings and attainments, whether real or imagined—behind us; (b) living wholeheartedly for Christ in the present; and (c) using all our effort to press on toward the future goal of being made complete in spiritual union with Christ in heaven.
A common practice is to divide the fundamental issues of human existence into three domains of inquiry: (a) where we come from (i.e. the origin of our
Conspectus 7:1 (March 2009) p. 82
existence); (b) why we are here (i.e. the purpose of our existence); and (c) where we are going (i.e. the ultimate destiny of our existence). This triad of issues deals, respectively, with the past, present, and future aspects of every individual’s life. Admittedly, there is some fluidity and overlap between these three facets of existence. Be that as it may, philosophers and theologians have found this approach helpful to demarcate the odyssey of life and to fathom its short-term and long-term significance (cf. Chan 2007:307-311; Echeverria 2007:243-244; Emmons 2005:734-736; Metz 2007; Zinke 2004:63-64).
The preceding breakdown can be seen in the faith journey of Paul, especially as it is delineated in Philippians 3:1-14. An exegetical analysis of the passage indicates that in the past, before he put his faith in Christ, Paul trusted in his human attainments (vv. 1-6). Then, after encountering the risen Lord on the road to Damascus (cf.
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