Philippians 3:18
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
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(18) Even weeping.—The especial sorrow, we cannot doubt, lay in this, that the Antinomian profligacy sheltered itself under his own preaching of liberty and of the superiority of the Spirit to the Law.

The enemies of the cross of Christ.—Here again (as in the application of the epithet “dogs” in Philippians 3:2) St. Paul seems to retort on those whom he rebuked a name which they may probably have given to their opponents. The Judaising tenets were, indeed, in a true sense, an enmity to that cross, which was “to the Jews a stumbling-block,” because, as St. Paul shows at large in the Galatian and Roman Epistles, they trenched upon faith in the all-sufficient atonement, and so (as he expresses it with startling emphasis) made Christ to “be dead in vain.” But the doctrine of the Cross has two parts, distinct, yet inseparable. There is the cross which He alone bore for us, of which it is our comfort to know that we need only believe in it, and cannot share it. There is also the cross which we are “to take up and follow Him” (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24), in the “fellowship of His sufferings and conformity to His death,” described above (Philippians 3:10-11). St. Paul unites both in the striking passage which closes his Galatian Epistle (Galatians 6:14). He says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!” but he adds, “whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I to the world.” Under cover, perhaps, of absolute acceptance of the one form of this great doctrine, the Antinomian party, “continuing in sin that grace might abound,” were, in respect of the other, “enemies of the cross of Christ.”

3:12-21 This simple dependence and earnestness of soul, were not mentioned as if the apostle had gained the prize, or were already made perfect in the Saviour's likeness. He forgot the things which were behind, so as not to be content with past labours or present measures of grace. He reached forth, stretched himself forward towards his point; expressions showing great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is in Christ Jesus; through his hand it must come to us, as it is procured for us by him. There is no getting to heaven as our home, but by Christ as our Way. True believers, in seeking this assurance, as well as to glorify him, will seek more nearly to resemble his sufferings and death, by dying to sin, and by crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. In these things there is a great difference among real Christians, but all know something of them. Believers make Christ all in all, and set their hearts upon another world. If they differ from one another, and are not of the same judgment in lesser matters, yet they must not judge one another; while they all meet now in Christ, and hope to meet shortly in heaven. Let them join in all the great things in which they are agreed, and wait for further light as to lesser things wherein they differ. The enemies of the cross of Christ mind nothing but their sensual appetites. Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when gloried in. The way of those who mind earthly things, may seem pleasant, but death and hell are at the end of it. If we choose their way, we shall share their end. The life of a Christian is in heaven, where his Head and his home are, and where he hopes to be shortly; he sets his affections upon things above; and where his heart is, there will his conversation be. There is glory kept for the bodies of the saints, in which they will appear at the resurrection. Then the body will be made glorious; not only raised again to life, but raised to great advantage. Observe the power by which this change will be wrought. May we be always prepared for the coming of our Judge; looking to have our vile bodies changed by his Almighty power, and applying to him daily to new-create our souls unto holiness; to deliver us from our enemies, and to employ our bodies and souls as instruments of righteousness in his service.For many walk - Many live, the Christian life being often in the Scriptures compared with a journey. In order to induce them to imitate those who were the most holy, the apostle says that there were many, even in the church, whom it would not be safe for them to imitate. He evidently here refers mainly to the church at Philippi, though it may be that he meant to make the declaration general, and to say that the same thing existed in other churches. There has not probably been any time yet in the Christian church when the same thing might not be said.

Of whom I have told you often - When he preached in Philippi. Paul was not afraid to speak of church members when they did wrong, and to warn others not to imitate their example. He did not attempt to cover up or excuse guilt because it was in the church, or to apologize for the defects and errors of those who professed to be Christians. The true way is, to admit that there are those in the church who do not honor their religion, and to warn others against following their example. But this fact does not make religion any the less true or valuable, anymore than the fact that there is counterfeit money makes all money bad, or makes genuine coin of no value.

And now tell you even weeping - This is the true spirit with which to speak of the errors and faults of Christians. It is not to go and blazon their inconsistencies abroad. It is not to find pleasure in the fact that they are inconsistent. It is not to reproach religion on that account, and to say that all religion is false and hollow, and that all professors are hypocrites. We should rather speak of the fact with tears; for, if there is anything that should make us weep, it is, that there are those in the church who are hypocrites, or who dishonor their profession. We should weep:

(1) because they are in danger of destroying their own souls;

(2) because they are destined to certain disappointment when they come to appear before God; and,

(3) because they injure the cause of religion, and give occasion to the "enemies of the Lord to speak reproachfully." He who loves religion. will weep over the inconsistencies of its friends; he who does not, will exult and triumph.

That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ - The "cross" was the instrument of death on which the Redeemer died to make atonement for sin. As the atonement made by Christ for sin is that which especially distinguishes his religion from all others, the "cross" comes to be used to denote his religion; and the phrase here means, that they were the enemies of his religion, or were strangers to the gospel. It is not to be supposed that they were open and avowed enemies of the cross, or that they denied that the Lord Jesus died on the cross to make an atonement. The characteristic of those persons mentioned in the following verse is, rather, that they were living in a manner which showed that they were strangers to his pure gospel. An immoral life is enmity to the cross of Christ; for he died to make us holy. A life where there is no evidence that the heart is renewed, is enmity to the cross; for he died that we might be renewed. They are the enemies of the cross, in the church:

(1) who have never been born again;

(2) who are living in the indulgence of known sin;

(3) who manifest none of the peculiarities of those who truly love him;

(4) who have a deeper interest in worldly affairs than they have in the cause of the Redeemer;

(5) whom nothing can induce to give up their worldly concerns when God demands it;

(6) who are opposed to all the unique doctrines of Christianity; and,

(7) who are opposed to all the special duties of religion, or who live in the habitual neglect of them.


18. many walk—in such a manner. Follow not evildoers, because they are "many" (Ex 23:2). Their numbers are rather a presumption against their being Christ's "little flock" (Lu 12:32).

often—There is need of constant warning.

weeping—(Ro 9:2). A hard tone in speaking of the inconsistencies of professors is the very opposite of Paul's spirit, and David's (Ps 119:136), and Jeremiah's (Jer 13:17). The Lord and His apostles, at the same time, speak more strongly against empty professors (as the Pharisees), than against open scoffers.

enemies of the cross of Christ—in their practice, not in doctrine (Ga 6:14; Heb 6:6; 10:29).

He doth, as in a parenthesis, according to our Bibles, allege reasons for his proposals.

For many walk; there were not a few who did at present walk otherwise, being evil workers, Philippians 3:2, not to be imitated or followed, Matthew 7:22,23.

Of whom I have told you often; of which, as a faithful watchman, he had again and again given them warning.

And now tell you even weeping; and now also by this present writing, out of great compassion to their immortal souls, he did repeat it again with tears in his eyes.

That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; they were such who did in the general (whatever they might under a fair show pretend) oppose the gospel of Christ, yea, did in effect under the cloak of profession, that which was in a tendency to evert the true Christian doctrine, discipline, and holiness. They did go about to mingle the law and the gospel, to join Moses with Christ for justification, as Philippians 3:4, &c.; Galatians 2:21, and so undervalue redemption from the curse, Galatians 3:13 5:2,4. In special, these Epicureans (as it should seem they were by the following character, rather than real Christians) might rightly be called enemies, because they did seem by their sensuality to restore the kingdom to those whom Christ had on his cross openly spoiled of it, Colossians 2:15, that they might gratify the Jews in urging the necessity of circumcision; so undermining the virtue and merit of Christ’s passion, defirming the end of it, as the Jews did him in it, and in times of trial avoid persecution, Galatians 6:12,14, they showed themselves by interpretation really to be enemies to Christ crucified, 1 Corinthians 1:23,24 2:2.

For many walk,.... "otherwise", as the Syriac version adds; and which truly explains the words, and gives the sense; they walked not as the apostle and his followers; they walked as men, as carnal men, 1 Corinthians 3:3, according to the course of the world, after their ungodly lusts, Ephesians 2:2; or according to the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation, and not uprightly, and according to the truth of the Gospel: and there were many that walked so; the road both of profaneness and error is a broad one, and many walk therein, which makes it the more dangerous; the examples of many have great force, though a multitude is not to be followed to do evil; the conversation of a great part of professors is not to be imitated; the few names in Sardis that have not defiled their garments with error or immorality should be marked for ensamples, Revelation 3:4, and the majority shunned:

of whom I have told you often; both when present among them by word of mouth, and when absent from them by writing; for the apostle was a faithful watchman and monitor to this church, and to all the churches, the care of which lay upon him; and diligent he was to warn them against false teachers, whose doctrines and practices he knew were of pernicious consequence:

and now tell you even weeping; partly on account of those evil men, whose state and condition, notwithstanding their profession, was very bad; and partly on account of the glory of God and Christ, and the honour of religion, which suffered much through them; and also on account of the Philippians, lest they should be drawn aside by them; and because they had taken so little notice of his frequent cautions and advice: and that they might the better know the men he spoke of, and avoid them, he describes them by the following characters,

that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; not that, though they might be Jews, they were like the unbelieving Jews, who were open and implacable enemies of a crucified Christ, called Jesus accursed, and anathematized him and his followers, and to whom the preaching of Christ crucified was an offence and stumblingblock, 1 Corinthians 1:23; for these were professors of Christ, and pretended to preach Christ, and him crucified: nor were they such heretics that denied that Christ really assumed human nature, and was really crucified and died; and affirmed that all this was only in appearance, or that an image was hung upon the cross for him, or Simon the Cyrenian was crucified in his room, as some have thought, which was the heresy of Simon Magus, and his disciple Basilides: nor is the sense that they were averse to the crucifixion of the affections with the lusts, though this seems to be their true character, since they were sensual, and minded earthly things; but the meaning is, that they disliked the cross of Christ; they were unwilling to take it up for his sake, and follow him; they studied all ways and means to shun it; they ingratiated themselves into the affections of the unbelieving Jews, by complying with the ceremonies of the law, and bearing hard upon the apostle and his ministry, that so they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ; and besides, by enjoining circumcision and an observance of the law as necessary to salvation, they, as much as in them lay, made void the efficacy of the cross and death of Christ, and made that and him unprofitable, and of no effect to the souls of men; and were both doctrinally and practically enemies of the cross of Christ: and so all such professors of Christ, who walk not according to the Gospel, though they are not open and direct enemies to the Gospel, which is the preaching of the cross, yet they are secret and indirect ones, and oftentimes do more mischief to it by their lives, than the keenest adversaries of it can by their pens.

{8} (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

(8) He shows what the false apostles truly are, not from malice or ambition, but with sorrow and tears, that is, because being enemies of the Gospel (for that is joined with persecuting it) they regard nothing else, but the benefits of this life: that is to say, that abounding in peace, and quietness, and all worldly pleasures, they may live in great estimation among men, whose miserable end he forewarned them of.

Php 3:18. Admonitory confirmation of the injunction in Php 3:17.

περιπατοῦσιν] is not to be defined by κακῶς (Oecumenius), or longe aliter (Grotius; comp. Syr.); nor is it to be taken as circulantur (comp. 1 Peter 5:8) (Storr, Heinrichs, Flatt), which is at variance with the context in Php 3:17. Calvin, unnaturally breaking up the plan of the discourse, makes the connection: “ambulant terrena cogitantes” (which is prohibited by the very article before ἐπίγ. φρον.), and puts in a parenthesis what intervenes (so also Erasmus, Schmid, and Wolf); whilst Estius quite arbitrarily overleaps the first relative clause, and takes περιπ. along with ὧν τὸ τέλος κ.τ.λ. Erasmus (see his Annot.) and others, including Rheinwald, van Hengel, Rilliet, de Wette, Wiesinger, and Weiss, consider the discourse as broken off, the introduction of the relative clauses inducing the writer to leave out the modal definition of περιπ. Hofmann transforms the simple λέγειν (comp. Galatians 1:9) into the idea of naming, and takes τοὺς ἐχθρούς as its object-predicate, in which case, however, the mode of the περιπατεῖν would not be stated. On the contrary, the construction is a genuine Greek mode of attraction (see Wolf, ad Dem. Lept. 15; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 771; Kühner, II. 2, p. 925; Buttm. Neut. Gr. p. 68 [E. T. 77]), so framed, that instead of saying: many walk as the enemies of the cross, this predicative definition of mode is drawn into the relative clause οὓς πολλάκις κ.τ.λ.[171] and assimilated to the relative; comp. Plat. Rep. p. 402 c., and Stallbaum in loc. It is therefore to be interpreted: Many, of whom I have said that to you often, and now tell you even weeping, walk as the enemies, etc. The πολλάκις, emphatically corresponding with the πολλοί (2 Corinthians 8:22), refers to the apostle’s presence in Philippi; whether, at an earlier date in an epistle (see on Php 3:1), he had thus characterized these enemies of the cross (Flatt, Ewald), must be left undecided. But it is incorrect to make these words include a reference (Matthies) to Php 3:2, as in the two passages different persons (see below) must be described.

νῦν δὲ καὶ κλαίων] διὰ τί; ὅτι ἐπέτεινε τὸ κακὸν, ὅτι δακρύων ἄξιοι οἱ τοιοῦτοιοὕτως ἐστὶ συμπαθητικὸς, οὕτω φροντίζει πάντων ἀνθρώπων, Chrysostom. The deterioration of these men, which had in the meanwhile increased, now extorts tears from the apostle on account of their own ruin and of their ruinous influence.

τοὺς ἐχθρ. τ. στ. τ. Χ.] The article denotes the class of men characteristically defined. We must explain the designation as referring, not to enemies of the doctrine of the cross (Theodoret: ὡς διδάσκοντας ὅτι δίχα τῆς νομικῆς πολιτείας ἀδύνατον σωτηρίας τυχεῖν, so in substance Luther, Erasmus, Estius, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, and many others; also Heinrichs, Rheinwald, Matthies), so that passages such as Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, would have to be compared; but, as required by the context which follows, to Christians of Epicurean tendencies (ἐν ἀνέσει ζῶντες κ. τρυφῇ, Chrysostom; comp. Theophylact and Oecumenius), who, as such, are hostile to the fellowship of the cross of Christ (comp. Php 3:10), whose maxims of life are opposed to the παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2 Corinthians 1:5), so that it is hateful to them to suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17). Comp. Php 3:10, also Galatians 6:14. In opposition to the context, Rilliet and Weiss understand non-Christians, who reject Christianity with hostile disdain, because its founder was crucified (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:23), or because the preaching of the cross required the crucifixion of their own lusts (Weiss); Calvin interpreted it generally of hypocritical enemies of the gospel. This misunderstanding ought to have been precluded by the very use of the tragic πολλοί, the melancholy force of which lies in the very fact that they are Christians, but Christians whose conduct is the deterrent contrast to that which is required in Php 3:17. See, besides, in opposition to Weiss, Huther in the Mecklenb. Zeitschr. 1862, p. 630 ff.

We have still to notice that the persons here depicted are not the same as those who were described in Php 3:2 (contrary to the usual view, which is also followed by Schinz and Hilgenfeld); for those were teachers, while these πολλοί are Christians generally. The former might indeed be characterized as ἐχθροὶ τ. σταυροῦ τ. Χ., according to Galatians 6:12, but their Judaistic standpoint does not correspond to the Epicureanism which is affirmed of the latter in the words ὧν ὁ Θεὸς ἡ κοιλία, Php 3:19. Hoelemann, de Wette, Lünemann, Wiesinger, Schenkel, and Hofmann have justly pronounced against the identity of the two; Weiss, however, following out his wrong interpretation of κύνες in Php 3:2 (of the heathen), maintains the identity to a certain extent by assuming that the conduct of those κύνες is here described; while Baur makes use of the passage to deny freshness, naturalness, and objectivity to the polemic attack here made on the false teachers.

[171] Hence also the conjecture of Laurent (Neut. Stud. p. 21 f.), that οἳς πολλάκιςἀπώλεια is a supplementary marginal note inserted by the apostle, is unwarranted.

Php 3:18. πολλοὶ κ.τ.λ. To whom does he refer? Plainly they were persons inside the Christian Church, although probably not at Philippi. This (against Ws[1].) is borne out by the use of περιπατεῖν compared with περιπατοῦντας (Php 3:17) and στοιχεῖν (Php 3:16), by κλαίων which would have no meaning here if not applied to professing Christians, and further by ἐχθρούς which would be a mere platitude if used of heathens or Jews. Some (e.g., Schinz, Hort, Cone, etc.) refer this passage to the same persons as he denounces at the beginning of the chapter, the Judaising teachers. And no doubt they might fitly be called ἐχθροὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ (Cf. Galatians 6:12-14). But the rest of the description applies far more aptly to professing Christians who allowed their liberty to degenerate into licence (Galatians 5:13); who, from an altogether superficial view of grace, thought lightly of continuing in sin (Romans 6:1; Romans 6:12-13; Romans 6:15; Romans 6:23); who, while bearing the name of Christ, were concerned only with their own self-indulgence (Romans 16:18). If there did exist at Philippi any section disposed to look with favour on Judaising tendencies, this might lead others to exaggerate the opposite way of thinking and to become a ready prey to Antinomian reaction. Possibly passages like the present and Romans 16:18 point to the earliest beginnings of that strange medley of doctrines which afterwards developed into Gnosticism. That this is the more natural explanation seems also to follow from the context. The Apostle has had in view, from Php 3:11 onwards, the advance towards perfection, the point already attained, the kind of course to be imitated. It seems most fitting that he should warn against those who pretended to be on the straight path, but who were really straying on devious by-ways of their own.—οὓς πολλάκις ἔλεγον κ.τ.λ. “Whom I often used to call,” etc. (so also Grotius, Heinrichs, Hfm[2].). Cf. Æsch., Eumen., 48, οὔτοι γυναῖκας ἀλλὰ Γοργόνας λέγω. Hatz. (Einl., p. 223) remarks that in the Greek islands they say μὲ λέγει or λέγει με = “he names me”. Paul speaks with a depth and vehemence of feeling (πολλοὶπολλάκιςκλαίων) which suggest his genuine interest in those disloyal Christians who had once seemed to receive his message. If we imagine that the terms he uses are too strong to apply to professing Christians, we must remember that he speaks in a most solemn mood and from the highest point of view.—τ. ἐχθροὺς τ. στ. τ. Χ. If we are right in taking λέγω = “call,” “name,” τοὺς ἐχθ. will come in as the remoter accusative. Otherwise it must be regarded as assimilated to the relative clause, as in 1 John 2:25. The true Christian is the man who is “crucified with Christ,” who has “crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts”. The Cross is the central principle in his life. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Those here described, by their unthinking self-indulgence, run directly in the teeth of this principle. The same thing holds good of much that passes for Christianity in modern life. “Who has not known kindly, serviceable men hanging about the Churches with a real predilection for the suburban life of Zion … and yet men whose life just seemed to omit the Cross of Christ” (Rainy, op. cit., p. 286). It is quite probable that Paul would feel their conduct all the more keenly inasmuch as Judaisers might point to it as the logical consequence of his liberal principles.

[1] . Weiss.

[2] Hofmann.

18. many] Evidently holders of an antinomian parody of the Gospel of grace; see on Php 3:12. That there were such in the primeval Church appears also from Romans 16:17-18 (a warning to Rome, as this from Rome); 1 Corinthians 5:6. To them Romans 3:31; Romans 6:1, refer, and Ephesians 5:6.

There may have been varieties under a common moral likeness; some perhaps taking the view afterwards prominent in Gnosticism—that matter is essentially evil, and that the body therefore is no better for moral control; some (and in the Roman Epistle these surely are in view), pushing the truth of Justification into an isolation which perverted it into deadly error, and teaching that the believer is so accepted in Christ that his personal actions are indifferent in the sight of God. Such growths of error, at once subtle and outrageous, appear to characterize, as by a mysterious law, every great period of spiritual advance and illumination. Compare the phenomena (cent. 16) of the Libertines at Geneva and the Prophets of Zwickau in Germany. Indeed few periods of Christian history have escaped such trials.

The false teachers in view here were no doubt broadly divided from the Judaists, and in most cases honestly and keenly opposed to them. But it is quite possible that in some cases the “the extremes met” in such a way as to account for the mention here of both in one context, in this chapter. The sternest formal legalism has a fatal tendency to slight “the weightier matters of the law,” and heart-purity among them; and history has shewn cases in which it has tolerated a social libertinism of the worst kind, irrevocably condemned by the true Gospel of free grace. Still, the persons referred to in this section were those who positively “gloried in their shame”; and this points to an avowed and dogmatic antinomianism.

The “many” of this verse is an instructive reminder of the formidable internal difficulties of the apostolic Church.

I have told you] Lit. and better, I used to tell you, in the old days of personal intercourse. This makes it the more likely that the antinomians were not of the gnostic type of the later Epistles, but of that of the Ep. to the Romans, perverters of the doctrine of free grace.

weeping] Years had only given him new and bitter experience of the deadly results.—For St Paul’s tears, cp. Acts 20:19; Acts 20:31; 2 Corinthians 2:4. We are reminded of the tears of his Lord, Luke 19:41; tears which like these indicate at once the tenderness of the mourner and the awfulness and certainty of the coming ruin. See a noble sermon by A. Monod (in his series on St Paul), Song of Solomon Christianisme, ou ses Larmes. An extract is given, Appendix G.

the enemies of the cross] As deluding their followers and themselves into the horrible belief that its purpose was to give the reins to sin, and as thus disgracing it in the eyes of unbelieving observers. “The cross” here, undoubtedly, means the holy propitiation of the Lord’s Death. For the Divine connexion of it as such with holiness of heart and life see the argument of Romans 3-6; Galatians 5.


“What is the Gospel of St Paul? Is it but a refined deism, announcing as its whole doctrine the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, as its whole revelation the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, as its only mediator Jesus Christ living as prophet and dying as martyr? Or is this Gospel a religion unlike all others (une religion tout à part) … proclaiming a God unknown, promising an indescribable deliverance, demanding a radical change, compassionate and terrible at once, … high as heaven, deep as hell? You need not, for your answer, consult the writings of the Apostle; you have but to see him weeping at your feet.”

Saint Paul, Cinq Discours (ed. 1859), p. 62.

Php 3:18.[47] Περιπατοῦσιν, walk) before your eyes.—πολλάκις, often) There ought to be a constant demonstration.—κλαίων, weeping) We may suppose that Paul added this word, after he had moistened the epistle with his tears; in joy, there is still sorrow, Romans 9:2.—τοὺς ἐχθροὺς τοῦ σταυροῦ, the enemies of the Cross) Galatians 6:12; Galatians 6:14.

[47] πολλοὶ, many) To follow many in the way of imitation is dangerous.—V.g.

Verse 18. - For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; rather, I used to tell you; the tense is imperfect. He used to speak thus of them when he was at Philippi; now, during his absence, the evil has increased, and he repeats his warning with tears. "Paul weeps," says Chrysostom, "for those at whom others laugh; so true is his sympathy, so deep his care for all men." He seems to be speaking here, not of the Jews, but of nominal Christians, who used their liberty for a cloke of licentiousness. Such are enemies of the cross; they hate sell-denial, they will not take up their cross. By their evil lives they bring shame upon the religion of the cross. Philippians 3:18Many walk

No word is supplied describing the character of their walk; but this is brought out by enemies of the cross of Christ, and in the details of Philippians 3:19. The persons alluded to were probably those of Epicurean tendencies. This and Judaic formalism were the two prominent errors in the Philippian church.

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