Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, (Philippians 3:8)
Verse 7 Paul encouraged the Philippian believers in the fact that what he had considered or accounted as loss for the sake of Christ, he now says that he still considers all these things as a loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ. The word used here (Greek huperecho) gives us an understanding of how Paul sees the value in knowing Christ. It is literally translated to “have over” or is a superlative way of saying how vast this value is. It is beyond just having value; it is the superlative value of something. Here, that something is knowing Christ.
To know, as Paul is using it here, means more than just intellectual attainment. It is the knowledge that masters the heart and the will. Knowing Christ is more than just knowing about him; it is a personal relationship with the subject of the knowledge. Paul speaks to this also in his letter to the Galatians –“…because you have come to know God, or rather have come to be known by God…” Galatians 4:9 (LEB). Revelation in the Scriptures is not God just giving us facts about himself; it is God giving us himself.
To know Christ as Lord means that we have submitted ourselves to the kingdom of God. It costs us everything – consider what Jesus says in Matthew 13:44-46 (HCSB) – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy, he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.” (Emphasis added). Notice that Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth everything we have. That is what Paul is stating in saying that he “count[s] all things to be loss for the surpassing value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things.”
In fact, Paul uses strong language in emphasizing his point of what he had given up in favor of gaining Christ. The Greek word used here, skubalon literally means dung or excrement. Paul is stressing that the things that he considered as advantages and were highly desired are not important; he is showing utter contempt and disdain of the highest degree to them. When they are compared to Jesus Christ, not only are they considered a loss (of something that is considered valuable) but as refuse or excrement (something thrown away as useless or a nuisance). It shows Paul’s utter contempt for his previous assurance, self-righteousness, and zeal. When Paul found salvation through Christ, he lost his religion.
Paul has evaluated his former life and found it to be something not to be held on to but to be put out in the garbage because his prized possessions were nothing but dung.
All of this was so that Paul could show to the believers at Philippi that to “gain Christ” is to appropriate “Christ to oneself that he becomes the domineering power in and over one’s whole being and circumstances.”
More in-depth Insights
More than that, I count all things to be loss. Not only being circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; a Pharisee, studying under Gamaliel, but everything that anyone could possess is a loss when it comes to salvation. Salvation is an underserved gift from God; it cannot be earned regardless of one’s status in life, knowledge and wisdom, power, wealth, or honor. While everything above has its value, if used for the gospel, it is a loss if the intent is to earn salvation. The apostle Paul is not denouncing or renouncing these things as worthless in and of themselves, but only if one is doing or possessing them in an attempt at usurping the ransom sacrifice. We set aside our natural inclination for worldly desires for Christ. Paul was willing to sacrifice the things mentioned above for the sake of the gospel and was willing to give his life. Paul uses the same Greek word (ζημίαv zēmian) that Luke uses in the book of Acts at 27:21, where he speaks of the loss when they set sail from Crete on the voyage to Rome, and failed to listen to Paul, so they incurred damage to the ship but no loss of life. The sense here is whatever Paul may have had or would come to have or could have had had he chosen the life of a Pharisee over Christ when it is compared to coming to know Christ, it is suffering loss, suffering damage, forfeiting salvation.
In view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. The idea here is that Paul viewed everything else in life as worthless compared to that of knowing Christ, and he was willing to set aside everything else that could have been or could have been to know Christ.
For whom I have suffered the loss of all things. When Paul became a Christian, he gave up the life of honor and prestige as a Pharisee and great thinker who had been a prized student of Gamaliel. This life that could have been at that time was all Saul/Paul could have desired. He discarded the hope of honor and prestige beyond his wildest dreams. He gave up a life of ease, and he gave up friends, family, and religious leaders that he dearly loved. He went from being looked to as one of the greatest minds in Judaism to being loathed by the Jews, and likely excommunicated; and that more than likely his own family renounced him.
And count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ. The Greek word (σκύβαλον skubalon) here rendered “rubbish” is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It has the sense of waste, rejected as worthless or unwanted, and it literally refers to animal waste. There is no other Greek word that can convey the idea of utter worthlessness as outward advantages and benefits in life that will never earn one salvation.
 Wesley J. Perschbacher, ed., The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, ed. Wesley J. Perschbacher (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990). Page 419.
 George Wigram, New Englishman’s Greek-English Concordance and Lexicon (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc., 1982). Page 789. Wesley J. Perschbacher, ed., The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, ed. Wesley J. Perschbacher (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990). Page 373.
 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 2, 2 vols. (Wilmington, DE: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1972). Page 1151.
 W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 260.