The Berean Expositor
Volume 9 - Page 128 of 138
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The Hope and the Prize.
#18. Joint Imitators (Phil. 3: 17).
pp. 21 - 24
The apostle had spoken of the truth pertaining to the prize, and of the instruction of
those who desired to be perfect, as being revealed to such by God. He links with this
high and holy revelation the responsibility of each one to walk in line with his
attainments. He now proceeds to call their attention to the pattern that had been given
them, saying, "Brethren, become joint imitators of me". In the opening up of the secret
which was made known to Paul, we find the Gentiles made joint heirs, a joint body, and
joint partakers of the promise (Eph. 3: 6). This joint participation in inheritance, body
and promise was not of their own choosing or volition, it was entirely of grace. Those
who were thus blessed were blessed without regard to their own personal characters or
desires; the joint imitators of the apostle were such by virtue of that grace-given desire to
press toward the prize.
On several occasions the apostle speaks of himself as a pattern for us to follow, and
unless we appreciate the condescension of our God in this matter, we shall miss much
When we are exhorted to follow the example of Christ, we may feel tempted by
reason of our own conscious corruption and failure to feel that the attempt must ever
prove fruitless, because He, the Son of God, was so peerless and so perfect. God has met
our need in this matter; He has taken a man who so hated the name of the Lord that he
went the length of threatening and slaughter, and so dealt with him that he became God's
own interpretation of what He means when He tells us to follow or imitate Christ. He
says, in effect, here is no peerless and perfect Saviour, but a saved sinner, a man of like
infirmity with yourselves; look at the way he followed his Lord, and take his example as
my illustration of what I mean when I call upon you to walk in the steps of the Lord Jesus
Before passing on to consider the passage which will enable us to appreciate the
apostle as the pattern for the Church, we would draw attention to the fact that here in
Philippians we find the word "joint imitators", and not simply "imitators" as in all the
other passages; this is peculiarly characteristic of the epistles of the mystery. This prize
is to be won by members of one body, and however individual the progress and
responsibility may be, there was to be a unity pervading the endeavour. This can be
gathered by noticing the repeated emphasis on "minding the same thing", being of "one
mind", being of "equal soul" that is found in the epistle. The "joint imitators" are called
upon in 1: 27 to be "joint strivers" for the faith of the gospel; the contexts of these two
words have some things in common. Both are closely connected with the teaching
concerning "citizenship", translated in each case by the word "conversation", both have
to do with something that goes beyond salvation and speaks of suffering for Christ. The
joint imitator is, moreover, very closely related to two other expressions in the third