Best on Philippians 3

I received, earlier, a comment asking me to offer a place to start for reading Phil. 3.  Now, my paper at Exeter was more focused on Phil. 1, but I did have to dip into chapt. 3, so I can offer a few thoughts.  Chapter 3 deals with several issues (enemies, Paul’s background, suffering/glory-resurrection), but my interest was just in the motif of suffering.  That will be the focus of my comments.


For more general resources I recommend the following:

Bockmuehl, M. Philippians (Black’s NTC).  A short, but balanced, and sane analysis of the text. 

 Fee, Gordon. Philippians (NICNT).  A massive commentary, this offers theological and traditional exegetical analysis. 

Hooker, Morna. Philippians (New Interpreter’s).  This is more of an exposition commentary, and it is rather short, but I really enjoy her perspective and especially on matters of ‘interchange’ or ‘participation’ with Christ.

Fowl, Stephen. Philippians (Two Horizons).  This new series really tries to marry systematic theology and biblical studies.  Though it is not meant to offer rigorous exegesis, Fowl is excellent in drawing out the theological inferences or implications of a text.  There are also some helpful excurses in the back.


More specifically on the matter of suffering/resurrection in Phil. 3. see

 Bloomquist, G. The Function of Suffering in Philippians (1993).  He also has a related article in Theoforum

 Gorman, M. Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross (2001).

Hooker, M. ‘Interchange and Suffering’ in Suffering and Martyrdom (ed. Horbury 1981).  Her focus is, in part, on Phil. 3. 

Jervis, L. Ann. At the Heart of the Gospel (2007).  One of her chapters is on suffering in Philippians.

If you are looking for something more on Paul’s opponents read the Brill volume on Paul and his Opponents (ed. Porter, see esp. Sumney), and take note of especially (in her commentary) Hooker’s thoughts on the opponents and also John M G Barclay’s caveat in his article on ‘Mirror-reading a Polemical Letter’ (JSNT 1987).

I could go on and on, but I think that is a good start.  I’m sure others will have their favorite books/commentaries, but here is my two cents.


6 thoughts on “Best on Philippians 3

  1. Thank you mga318. The original request asked for an introduction to the “scholarship” of Philippians 3, and I took that to mean to secondary literature. I presupposed that the primary literature would be read in full. But, to follow your train of thought, the actual “best place” to start reading on Philippians 3 is the whole epistle in sum. In fact, much of Philippians 3 is influenced by the so-called Christ-Hymn in Phil. 2.

    But, this is a good caveat: whenever I offer insight into secondary literature, that presumes interaction with the main primary text. Thanks.

  2. I know…sorry…I thought it would be funny comment.

    But seriously, I think your bibliography suggestions look great.

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