John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 3:9 - 3:9

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 3:9 - 3:9


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

9.And may find them in him The verb is in the passive voice, and hence all others have rendered itI may be found. They pass over the context, however, in a very indifferent manner, as though it had no peculiar force. If you read it in the passive voice, an antithesis must be understood — thatPaul was lost before he was found in Christ, as a rich merchant is like one lost, so long as he has his vessel laden with riches; but when they have been thrown overboard, he is found? (186) For here that saying (187) is admirably in point — “ had been lost, if I had not been lost.” But as the verb εὐρίσκομαι while it has a passive termination, has an active signification, and means — to recover what you have voluntarily given up, (as Budaeus shews by various examples,) I have not hesitated to differ from the opinion of others. For, in this way, the meaning will be more complete, and the doctrine the more ample — that Paul renounced everything that he had, that he might recover them in Christ; and this corresponds better with the word gain, for it means that it was no trivial or ordinary gain, inasmuch as Christ contains everything in himself. And, unquestionably, we lose nothing when we come to Christ naked and stript of everything, for those things which we previously imagined, on false grounds, that we possessed, we then begin really to acquire. He, accordingly, shews more fully, how great the riches of Christ, because we obtain and find all things in him.

Not having mine own righteousness Here we have a remarkable passage, if any one is desirous to have a particular description of the righteousness of faith, and to understand its true nature. For Paul here makes a comparison between two kinds of righteousness. The one he speaks of as belonging to the man, while he calls it at the same time the righteousness of the law; the other, he tells us, is from God, is obtained through faith, and rests upon faith in Christ. These he represents as so directly opposed to each other, that they cannot stand together. Hence there are two things that are to be observed here. In the first place, that the righteousness of the law must be given up and renounced, that you may be righteous through faith; and secondly, that the righteousness of faith comes forth from God, and does not belong to the individual. As to both of these we have in the present day a great controversy with Papists; for on the one hand, they do not allow that the righteousness of faith is altogether from God, but ascribe it partly to man; and, on the other hand, they mix them together, as if the one did not destroy the other. Hence we must carefully examine the several words made use of by Paul, for there is not one of them that is not very emphatic.

He says, that believers have no righteousness of their own. Now, it cannot be denied, that if there were any righteousness of works, it might with propriety be said to be ours. Hence he leaves no room whatever for the righteousness of works. Why he calls it the righteousness of the law, he shows in Rom_10:5; because this is the sentence of the law, He that doeth these things shall live in them. The law, therefore, pronounces the man to be righteous through works. Nor is there any ground for the cavil of Papists, that all this must be restricted to ceremonies. For in the first place, it is a contemptible frivolity to affirm that Paul was righteous only through ceremonies; and secondly, he in this way draws a contrast between those two kinds of righteousness — the one being of man, the other, from God. He intimates, accordingly, that the one is the reward of works, while the other is a free gift from God. He thus, in a general way, places man’ merit in opposition to Christ’ grace; for while the law brings works, faith presents man before God as naked, that he may be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When, therefore, he declares that the righteousness of faith is from God, it is not simply because faith is the gift of God, but because God justifies us by his goodness, or because we receive by faith the righteousness which he has conferred upon us.



(186) “Mais apres que les richesses sont lettees en la mer, il est trouue, pource qu’ commence a avoir esperance d’ d’ que le vaisseau est allege;” — “ after his riches have been thrown into the sea, he is found, inasmuch as he begins to have hope of escaping, because the vessel has been lightened.”

(187) “Le prouerbe ancien;” — “ ancient proverb.”