Natan’s Notes on Philippians

Philippians 1

Philippians 1:11, The fruits of righteousness which are by Yeshua the Messiah.

Yeshua in Us: The Power to Obey Torah

It is impossible for a man to keep the Torah on his own strength as Yeshua’s encounter with the rich young ruler proves (Matt 19:16–22). When the young man asked Yeshua what he must do to have eternal life, Yeshua seems to set the man up for a fall when he declares, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Yeshua is not being disingenuous here. Were one to keep the Torah perfectly without sinning, hypothetically, one would not fall under the death penalty for violating the laws of Elohim (i.e. sin). If this were so, then presumably one could earn eternal life by one’s own good works. But no man has ever accomplished this superhuman feat except the superhuman Yeshua! So when the young ruler proudly declared his perfect Torah obedience, Yeshua showed him that he was, in fact, violating the Torah in at least one area—covetousness and greed. Yeshua shows him how to come into Torah compliance, and then admonishes him to come and to follow him. What Yeshua is teaching us here is that it’s impossible to keep the Torah perfectly without factoring Yeshua, the Living Torah, into the equation. The point that we can’t keep the Torah without Yeshua directly intervening in our lives, I hope to conclusively demonstrate below.

One way that Yeshua helps his followers obey the Torah is by sending us his Spirit as an internal spiritual force into our hearts to nudge and lead us into Torah-obedience. 

What’s more, Yeshua also gives us the divine gift of his grace to accomplish the same thing. His grace removes the guilt, stain and penalties for our past sins, and with a clear conscience and a clean spiritual slate before YHVH, minus the past baggage of sin weighing us down, we are able to go forward under the power of YHVH’s Spirit to walk in accordance with his Torah. Praise Yeshua! An illustration of this would be a runner who trains wearing a backpack filled with rocks. Once the weight is removed from his back, when he runs, he feels as if he were flying through the air. 

Our faith in, love for and continual abiding in Yeshua is the key to receiving his systemic spiritual empowerment to walk a life that mirrors Yeshua. Paul invites us to imitate Yeshua as he himself imitated Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1). In fact, the word Christian means “little Christ,” that is, “one who follows what Christ did and taught.” One follows Yeshua by abiding in him as a branch abides in or is attached to a vine (John 15:4–5). A branch that is attached to a tree naturally, through no effort of its own, receives energy from the tree and produces fruit. The energy of life just naturally flows into the branch. When we abide in Yeshua, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the first and foremost fruit out of which all the other fruits subdivide. How do we walk in love toward YHVH and love toward our neighbor? The biblical answer is simple: by keeping his Torah commandment, which show us how to love. As Paul tersely declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the Torah-law” (see Rom 13:8–10). 

Our abiding faith in Yeshua automatically attaches us to that spiritual tree that is a metaphorical picture of him; it is the tree of life, which leads to eternal life in the kingdom of Elohim. As we abide in him, we will produce fruits of righteousness, which is adherence to the Torah of Elohim. Yeshua extends his grace to us, and our faith in Yeshua, and Yeshua living in us produces righteousness leading to eternal life (Rom 5:21).

As sap flows from a tree into the branches, so the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua flows out of Yeshua, who is the tree of life, into us freeing us from the spirit of Torahlessness,which leads to death. Not only did Yeshua free us from the wages of sin (or Torahlessness), which is death, but his life in us now fulfills the righteous requirements of the Torah. He empowers us to no longer walk according to the sinful flesh, but according to the Spirit of Truth (or Torah, Rom 8:1–4, 10). It is for this reason that Paul could exuberantly proclaim that “if Elohim is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31), and, “In all things we are more than conquerors through him [Yeshua] who loved us” (Rom 8:37).

Having previously been an unloving, even hate-filled, legalistic Torah-keeping Pharisee, Paul knew that it was impossible to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Torah by his own strength. Before coming to faith in Yeshua, he had tried to keep the Torah by his own strength and failed. He learned that he could serve Elohim only through the power of the Spirit of Elohim, not in the old manner through human will and determination. The Spirit-empowered mind is able to keep the Torah, something the natural flesh man is incapable of doing. Obedience is only possible through faith in Yeshua and the gift of his Spirit (Rom 7:6, 25 cp. 8:6–8; 9:30–33). 

In many other places, Paul indicates that without Yeshua it is impossible to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Torah. For example, he states that he is in no way promoting Torahlessness, but a Torah-obedience through Yeshua’s empowerment (1 Cor 9:21). The Holy Spirit in us, Paul declares, produces righteousness (i.e. conformity to the Torah, note Ps 119:172) by our faith in Yeshua through love (Gal 5:5–6). What’s more, we’re saved through faith in Yeshua who is the Living Torah-Word of Elohim (as was Abraham when he had faith in the preincarnte Yeshua and obeyed his word). As a new spiritual creation in Yeshua, we produce and walk in good works (i.e. Torah-obedience) through faith in Yeshua, the Living Torah (Eph 2:6, 10). Or stated another way, we’re a new man or new creation in Yeshua who lives in or through us (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17); we’ve been renewed in the spirit of our mind for true righteousness and holiness (i.e. Torah-obedience, Eph 4:22–24). Elsewhere, Paul encourages us to be filled with the fruits of righteousness (or Torah-obedience, Ps 119:172) through Yeshua (Phil 1:11). He further tells us that Yeshua redeemed us from Torahlessness (or sin, 1 John 3:4) and is working to purify for himself his own special people who are “zealous for good works” (i.e. Torah-obedience, Tit 2:14), and is making us complete in every good work do to his will” (Heb 13:21).

Philippians 1:15–16, Some indeed preach. “Good will”(Gr. eudokia) also can mean “kindly intent, benevolence.” “Selfish ambition/contention” (Gr. eritheia) means “electioneering or intriguing for office, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts, partisanship.” 

Philippians 1:15–18, Some indeed preach…Messiah is preached. Paul’s focus was so firmly focused on Messiah that he was able to rise above the fray of self-seeking, self-aggrandizing gospel peddlers and focus solely on the fact that the message of the gospel was being preached, even though by imperfect vessels, and he chose to find the blessing in that. He had so much faith in the power of message of the Messiah to transform lives that even when it was preached by a dumb jackass human vessels, he had confidence that the message itself (apart from the preacher) carried the miraculous power to advance the kingdom of Elohim, and for that, Paul rejoiced, while at the same time, not allowing himself to become embroiled in the whys and wherefores of how the gospel was being preached and by whom.

Philippians 1:28, Proof of perdition. The enemies of the righteous persecute them because by the good example of the righteous, the wicked are reminded of their own moral and spiritual failings and, hence, their own spiritual fate, which is, if they fail to repent, perdition. It is the path of least resistance for the wicked to attack the doers of righteousness rather than to take stock of their own lives, see the spiritual deficiencies therein and then to make the necessary changes to elevate their own spiritual standing.

Philippians 2

Philippians 2:5, Mind…Messiah. (See also 1 Cor 2:16 cp. 1 Pet 4:1.) What is the mind of Messiah that we are to have? Mind is the Greek word phroneo meaning “to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think, to have an opinion of one’s self, think of one’s self, to be modest, not let one’s opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty, to think or judge what one’s opinion is, to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for, to seek one’s interest or advantage, and to be of one’s party, side with him (in public affairs)” From the context of this passage (vv. 1–8), it is a mind of humility toward one another, being willing to lay one’s life down for one’s brother, being concerned for other’s needs, endeavoring to be in one accord, not given to selfish ambition, esteeming others above one’s own needs or interest, willing submitting to the role of a bond servant, being obedient to Elohim and being willing to suffer and die for our faith (figuratively, or literally, if necessary). Those who take on the mind of Messiah will be rewarded by being exalted, even as Messiah was exalted after suffering on the cross (vv. 9–11).

Philippians 3

Philippians 3:2, The concision/mutilation. This word corresponds to the verb meaning “to cut in pieces, or the cutting up of meat, especially for sacrificial purposes.” Paul here is using irony or even sacrcasim to discredit his adversaries by referring to circumcision as a type of ritual maiming—something that was abhorrent to the Jews. In this instance, Paul’s was using an aggressive debate tactic to make his point (TWOT, vol. 8, pp. 109–110). 

Philippians 3:11,12, and 13. I may attain… Already attained…I do not count myself. Ultimate salvation or eternal life isn’t guaranteed the believer just because they were initially saved. 

Philippians 3:12, Already perfected. Perfected is the Greek word teleioo meaning “to make perfect, complete, bring to the end goal, add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full, and to bring to the end goal.” Paul is here referring to the redemption of the body or receipt of eternal life.

Yeshua has laid hold of. He conquered death and has laid hold of the resurrection to eternal life as the first of the firstfruits going ahead of his saints to prepare the way for their receiving eternal life.

Philippians 3:16, To the degree. Salvation is a process.At the beginning of one’s spiritual walk, one is initially saved (or redeemed), but it is how one ends one’s life that determines whether that salvation is completed or brought to its final perfection, completion or end goal, which is eternal life (as discussed in verse 12).

Philippians 3:18–19, Enemies of the cross…mind earthly things. Such people will not inherit eternal life salvation.

Philippians 3:21, Transform our lowly bodies. The resurrection of the dead and becoming like Messiah is the ultimate goal.

Philippians 4

Philippians 4:5, The Lord is at hand. This scripture passage along with others by Paul, James and John clearly indicates that the apostolic writers when writing these passages (i.e. prior to AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple) viewed the second coming of Yeshua as imminent, and was not far off in the future. (See also 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:14–15; Rom 13:11; 16:20; cp. Jas 5:7–9; 1 John 2:18.) The imminence of Yeshua’s second coming may have been based on a misunderstanding of Yeshua’s own words in his Olivet Discourse where he talks about the events announcing his second coming falling on “this generation” (Matt 24:34, 36). From this passage, it’s not readily understood to which generation he is referring—that one, or another off in the future, or both. It appears that the apostles applied his words to their generation.

Philippians 4:7, The peace of Elohim. The Bible speaks of two types of peace: a surface peace and deep spiritual peace. The former is a peace that humans can experience when all is well in their physical lives, when they are experiencing well-being in their mind, will and emotions. However, there is a deeper, spiritual peace that is a gift from Elohim. This peace comes when the stain, guilt, condemnation and burden of sin has been removed from a person because of their relationship with Yeshua the Messiah. Only then can one have a deep inner peace with oneself and with one’s Creator. When this occurs, one can be assured that the free gift of salvation is theirs resulting in eternal life. 

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. However, in the Tanakh or Hebrew Scriptures where this word is found, it has two potential spellings in Hebrew. One spelling reflects a physical peace, while the other spelling indicates the deeper, spiritual peace. In Hebrew the word shalom is spelled shin, lamed, vav and mem sophit. This form of the word is called a complete spelling. This spelling reflects the deeper peace that comes as a gift from heaven. However, when shalom is spelled with a broken vav as if it were missing the vav as is the case in Numbers 25:12, it is called a defective spelling. This indicates that only through Messiah, the Prince of Peace, can one find true and complete peace (see Isa 9:6 cp. The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, p. 103 by Michael L. Munk).


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