The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 45 of 261
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The Apostle's statement, seen in its context, is a note of triumph. It is healthy and
sane, the very reverse of anything morbid:
"And rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and not only so, but we glory in
tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Rom. 5: 3).
Let us always remember that a consideration of the context invariably adds to the
fullness and truth of a passage, and is essential to a true interpretation.
"Concerning zeal, persecuting the church" (Phil. 3: 6).
pp. 160, 161
When Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, it is just possible, taking the
statement by itself, that he used the word translated "persecuting" in its primitive
meaning of "pursuing". If we adopt this view, the passage would mean that he sought
most earnestly to reach the coveted position of membership of the church. There are
contextual reasons, however, that make this translation impossible. Considering first the
remote context we read in I Cor. 15::
"I persecuted the church of God" (I Cor. 15: 9).
This is given as a reason why Paul considered himself "the least of the apostles" and
"not meet to be called an apostle". This would not make sense if he intended us to
understand that he was anxiously desiring to reach the spiritual position of the church of
In Galatians we read:
"I persecuted the church of God AND WASTED IT" (Gal. 1: 13).
The added words "and wasted it" settle the Apostle's meaning without any shadow of
doubt. But this is not all. He gives this as an example of his zeal in the "Jew's religion"
and makes the boast that he profited in that religion above many that were his equals
(Gal. 1: 14). It is in this epistle that the Apostle, the erstwhile zealot for Judaism,
"I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing" (Gal. 5: 2).
And again, in Chapter 6::
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a
new creature. And as many as walk by this rule, peace be on them" (Gal. 6: 15, 16).
Of these same Galatians Paul asks "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the spirit, are
ye now made perfect by the flesh?" and of himself he says: