“I’m confused! In Philippians 3:17-20, is Paul addressing believers or unbelievers?”
“17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example.
“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:
“19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things)
“20 For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven….”
Paul is addressing both groups! In verse 17 the apostle begins by encouraging those at Philippi who were saved to follow his teachings and manner of life. Notice, however, that he digresses in verses 18 and 19 to add a parenthetical thought. The reason the apostle pauses momentarily here is to point out that there were many who claimed to be Christians, probably for some type of personal gain, but he clearly exposes them to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. They lived to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Their god was food, and drink, and sex, as they gloried in their shame. They were consumed with earthly possessions, which blinded them to their need of the Savior. As a result, their “end is destruction!” Surely this could not be said of the believer. After Paul completes the parenthesis, he resumes with his initial train of thought, confirming our heavenly hope with the saints at Philippi, “For our citizenship is in heaven….”
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.