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who will transform our humble body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:21)
The body of our humble body refers to the body limited by earthiness, finiteness, and sin. It is literally from the Greek word (ταπείνωσις tapeinōsis) and means being humble and unimportant. Paul was anticipating the return of Jesus Christ to His believers. Paul was fully aware that the body in which we exist now would not be adequate for our existence with Christ in the heavenlies. Christ will change this limited body into the likeness of His own glorious body. Our physical bodies will become glorified bodies made over into the image of Christ. The apostle John speaks of this also in 1 John 3:2 “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him just as he is.”
Christ will transform (Greek passive voice μετασχηματίζω metaschēmatizō; from 3326 and σχηματίζω schēmatizō) our bodies by his power (Greek energeo, or the active operative). This is not a change of identity, but a change of form or fashion. Our transformation into the likeness of Jesus Christ will be totally the work of Jesus. He has the authority and ability to change us from the earth-bound, frail bodies of dust into the glorified, heaven-bound bodies like His. The term (ὑποτάσσω hupotassō), translated subject, is a military term and means to rank under. Jesus has the operative authority to bring all things under His control.
Salvation has three stages: conversion (when we repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), moral perfection at death (when we are removed from the presence of sin), and the transformation of the body through the resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ.
Paul ends this third chapter upon a triumphal note of anticipation for the soon return of Jesus Christ for those who are His.
And we can summarize the whole teaching of this chapter, Christ – the Prize of life with verse 14 – “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
More in-depth Insights
Who will transform our humble body to be like his glorious body. The refers our present body in its state of imperfection. We are mentally bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; our hearts are treacherous (Jer. 17:9), our natural desire is to do bad (Romans), and we grow old and die. (Rom. 5:12) The exact opposite is what Adam and Eve had before the fall. It will be different for those who receive a spirit body who have a heavenly hope in the new heavens and those who have a perfect body like Adam and Eve had who have an earthly hope in the new earth. There will be a “new heavens and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1) At that time God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4.
By the power that enables him to subject all things to himself. A correct understanding of this or a fuller understanding can be found by looking at other Scriptures. Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you, just as you have given him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to all those whom you have given to him. 3 This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:1-3) And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” (Matt 28:18) The apostle Paul tells us, “The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For he put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that he is excepted who put all things in subjection to him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:26-28) What glorious prospect awaits the believers who have suffered through human imperfection, disease, old age, and death, in the future “new heavens and a new earth.”
 Body: (σῶμα sōma) The complete material structure or physical form of an organism, human being, or animal. (Mark 14:22; Lu 17:37; Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 12:12; 15:37; Phil. 3:21) There are also spiritual bodies, which are invisible to human eyes and completely beyond human senses. (1 Cor. 15:40, 44) The term “body” is also used symbolically. – Rom. 6:3-6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16; 4:4; Col. 1:18.
 The passive represents the action of the verb being done unto the subject but not by the subject. Sowing Circle, “Greek Verbs,” The Blue Letter Bible, http://www.blueletterbible.org/help/greekverbs.cfm (accessed April 02, 2014).
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