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Philippians 3:9 & meaning...

I may 

gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith

Philippians 3:9


Philippians 3 [7.] However, I consider those things that were gain to me as a loss for Christ. Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.


  • Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:

Joy and Rejoicing: Philippians is often called the "Epistle of Joy" because of its emphasis on rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstances. Paul writes this letter from prison, yet his words are filled with encouragement and a deep sense of peace.

Warning Against Legalism: In chapter 3, Paul warns the Philippians against false teachers who advocate for a legalistic righteousness based on adherence to the Jewish law, particularly circumcision. He contrasts this with the true righteousness that comes from faith in Christ.

  • Personal Testimony:

Paul’s Credentials: Prior to verse 9, Paul lists his impressive credentials as a devout Jew—circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, zealous for the law, and blameless in righteousness under the law.

Rejecting Self-Righteousness: Despite his credentials, Paul considers all these things as loss for the sake of Christ. He emphasizes that true righteousness is not based on the law or his own merits but through faith in Christ.

Theological Significance

  • Righteousness Through Faith:

Not by Law: Paul asserts that righteousness cannot be achieved through the law. The law highlights human sinfulness and our inability to achieve God’s standards on our own.

Faith in Christ: The righteousness that Paul speaks of is given through faith in Christ. This righteousness is not earned but received as a gift from God.

  • Union with Christ:

Being Found in Him: The phrase “be found in him” signifies a deep, personal union with Christ. It means being identified with Christ in his death and resurrection, and living a life that is hidden in Him.

Imputed Righteousness: The righteousness from God is imputed, meaning it is credited to believers by virtue of their faith in Jesus. This righteousness is perfect and complete because it is based on Christ’s righteousness, not our own flawed efforts.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Embracing True Righteousness:

Rejecting Self-Reliance: We are called to reject any form of self-reliance or legalism that suggests we can earn God’s favor through our own efforts. True righteousness comes only through faith in Christ.

Faith and Grace: Embracing the grace of God means acknowledging that our righteousness is entirely dependent on Christ’s finished work on the cross. This frees us from the burden of trying to earn our salvation and allows us to rest in His grace.

  • Living in Union with Christ:

Daily Dependence: Being found in Christ means living a life of daily dependence on Him. It means seeking to know Him more deeply, trusting in His provision, and allowing His life to be expressed through ours.

Reflecting Christ: Our lives should reflect the righteousness we have received. This involves a transformation in how we think, act, and interact with others, striving to embody the love, humility, and grace of Christ.


Romans 3:21-22: "But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe." Paul echoes the same truth in Romans, emphasizing that righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast." This passage reinforces the concept that salvation and righteousness are gifts from God, received through faith and not earned by works.

2 Corinthians 5:21: "For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Paul explains the great exchange: Christ took on our sin so that we might receive His righteousness.

Conclusion: Philippians 3:9 is a profound declaration of the gospel’s core truth—that righteousness comes through faith in Christ and not by our own works or adherence to the law. Paul’s personal testimony underscores the transformative power of this truth. Despite his impeccable credentials under the law, he finds true righteousness only through faith in Christ. This verse calls us to embrace the righteousness that comes from God, to live in union with Christ, and to reflect His character in our lives.

By understanding and applying this principle, we can experience the freedom and joy that come from knowing our righteousness is secure in Christ. This foundational truth not only assures us of our salvation but also shapes how we live our daily lives, inspiring us to live out our faith with humility, gratitude, and a deep sense of dependence on God’s grace.

See also: vs 7-8

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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