Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7)
Paul now evaluates his former life (vv. 7-8) and expresses his current aspirations (vv. 9-11). Paul’s conversion was not just a point in time experience. Conversion is not a just for the moment thing. It happens in a moment yet continues for a lifetime. Sanctification is not an emotional experience; it is a daily walk depending upon God.
Paul had a natural pride in his Jewish heritage. Yet, he realized that none of what he had just listed (vv. 4-6, all the possible advantages of outward status) would provide him with salvation, justification, peace, or a right relationship with God. The word gain used here (κέρδος kerdos) is in the plural form, thus referring back to all the “gains” he had held on to in these previous verses. The word translated loss here, the Greek ζημία zēmia, is in the singular. Paul is lumping the individual “gains” he had acquired into one great loss on account of Jesus Christ.
Count(ed) or consider(ed) (ἡγέομαι hēgeomai) occurs three times in verses 7 and 8. The first here in verse 7 is in the Greek perfect tense, showing a past completed action with continuing results. The others in the following verse are in the Greek present tense, indicating a continuing reaffirmation of the attitude.
The word loss is compared with gain three times. Paul’s loss was for the sake of Christ (v. 7), for the surpassing value of knowing Christ (v. 8), and for gaining Christ (v. 8). Paul had no reserve, no retreat, and no regrets when it came to what he left behind for what he had acquired.
More in-depth Insights
But whatever things were gain to me. What Paul had highlighted in 3:5, being circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; a Pharisee, studying under Gamaliel; he formerly thought these things were gain toward salvation. Paul had placed great value on these things, believing that if moral character and religion were money, he was the richest of the rich. He likely also believed these things were what was going to bring him honor and help him advance in the world. In the Judaism of his day, had Paul rejected Christ and Christianity, remaining Saul the Pharisee, he would have been honored by the rulers and leaders. He would have had a bright future as one of the foremost students of the renowned Gamaliel. Anyone aspiring, ambitious, would dream of having such fleshly qualifications.
Those things I have counted as loss. Looking back now as the apostle Paul, he fully realized that they were really of no great advantage the way that they were being used to persecute Christ and Christians, and they were not leading him to honor distinction or salvation. They were causing him injury. If Paul used the above for the gospel’s sake, that would be something different, beneficial. These things had led him to an incorrect evaluation of his character, which had delayed him in accepting the new way to God. Now, in looking back, he has now renounced all dependence on them for seeking honor, human advantages, and salvation, for they were nothing, in fact, a loss.
For the sake of Christ. When considering Christ, these things he so valued were now seen as worthless. Suppose Paul was going to receive salvation through the ransom sacrifice of Christ. In that case, he must place his faith in him, not being circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; a Pharisee, studying under Gamaliel.
 A human being is sanctified when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose.
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments – Volume 3, Vol. 3 (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008). Page 433.
 Holman Bible Editorial Staff, ed., HCSB Study Bible (Kindle Locations 147153-147159), ed. Holman Bible Editorial Staff (B&H Publishing Group Kindle Edition, 2010).