James Nisbet Commentary - Philippians 3:19 - 3:19

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James Nisbet Commentary - Philippians 3:19 - 3:19

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Who mind earthly things.’


Every circumference is generated from a centre; every life must have its pivot.

I. God is the one true centre of our life.—It has been said, ‘God’s centre is everywhere; His circumference nowhere.’ If you and I refuse to take God as the central thought, the innermost idea of our life, we are convicted of thrusting Him from His rightful position. Our life becomes an inharmonious disadjusted thing; its activities become distracted, fragmentary. The principle of moral unity is lost.

II. The faculties of soul were intended to serve some higher end than to ensure to us the maintenance of our physical being for a longer or shorter term of years. Unless it be so, we are outdistanced in the race by some amongst them. Many of them are our superiors in physical powers; many outlive us; and in the case of all, instinct affords so swift and sure a guidance in the conservation of their being as may well put our boasted reasoning powers to the blush.

III. Choose the higher.—Be what your Redeemer, Who has redeemed life for you from its hopeless secularity, would have you be. The ‘earthly things,’ for which exclusively you have perhaps lived, will not suffer at your hands by the admission to your thoughts and aims of the heavenly. Rather they will gain. For the result of yielding ourselves to the service of God is not to eliminate the earthly, but to absorb it in the heavenly; not to broaden and strengthen the barriers between the secular and the sacred, but to break them down.

IV. Earthly things for earthly souls.—It is a sad, sad scene, the passing of a world-bound spirit, that leaves its paltry all behind it, and goes to where nothing of its treasure has ever been laid up, clinging to its idols to the last: the past, one long regret; the future, a dull, portionless blank.

Bishop A. Pearson.


‘The words—“who mind earthly things”—close a brief description of certain “enemies of the Cross of Christ” whom St. Paul had in mind when he was writing to the Philippian converts; and at first sight they appear to present us with a somewhat feeble climax. For the former part of the description is couched in some of the strongest language to be met with in Holy Scripture: “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame.” Gluttony, drunkenness, and flagitious vice hardly culminate appropriately, it might seem, in mere engrossment in earthly things. But in the words of the text the Apostle touches the soil out of which those evil plants spring which he has previously noticed.’