As I studied Philippians 3:21 today, it occurred to me that this verse contains both some information for the reader, and a promise to Christians. We learn some things about our Savior Jesus Christ, and a promise which He will fulfill when we meet Him in heaven.
Philippians 3:21 “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
First, let’s look at those characteristics of Jesus Christ which we read in this verse. First, we read He has a “glorious body”. This is referring to the spiritual nature and characteristic of the body of Jesus Christ. His Spirit is in an exhaled state, one that is unblemished; one that is perfect. Jesus Christ is referred to in the Scripture as an unblemished Lamb. He was the embodiment of the fulfillment of the requirement of God for the forgiveness of sins, that being the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb. He became the sacrificial lamb for the forgiveness of our sins. Had Jesus not had an unblemished body, His sacrifice would not have been enough. But it was perfect and it is enough to forgive sins of those who believe.
1 Peter 1:19 “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
Another thing we see about Jesus is that “he is able to subdue (or make subject to) all things unto himself.” He is ruler of all.
Philippians 2:10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”
How is it that Jesus Christ is able to command such authority? Paul calls this in Philippians 3:21 “the working”. The original Greek word for this phrase is energeia, and it refers to a level of power that is above what is capable in humans. This is a spiritual power that you can say is “superhuman.” Christ has the ability to do things that humans cannot dream of doing; such as creating the universe. In this context, let’s look at the last part of verse 21 again:
Philippians 3:21 “…according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
This “working” as the translators called it, is the means by which Jesus Christ is able to command authority of all things unto Himself. This is an immense power. It is not something we’ll understand till we get to heaven. Oftentimes when Jesus is portrayed in a movie, He’s shown with long hair, shown as a kind of weakling. All of these completely miss the point that Jesus has power over all things; that just at the mention of His name every knee shall bow.
One final thing I see about Jesus Christ in this verse is that, in spite of having the immense power that He does, Jesus still gives to others. He has the ability to kill everyone and start over. But in all the Scripture we see He is thinking of others; Jesus has the heart of a servant rather than a King. We can see this in the promise which is in verse 21:
Philippians 3;21 “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body…”
One day when we meet Jesus, He will gather all His immense power together (the working, as Paul puts it) and use it all to it’s fullest extent to refashion our vile and sinful bodies. Rather than destroying it, He will remodel it to be a body like His own. What a wonderful promise!
We inhabit a frail and temporary body now. It gets sick, get’s cancer and all kind of other disease. It has tendencies to sin and disappoint the Lord. And in the end, it dies. But Jesus has in store for us a glorified body, one that is unblemished like His own. It says a lot about Jesus that He would do that for us, and how much He must love us to do that for us. No matter how bad things get here on earth, we can look forward with great anticipation of Jesus Christ fulfilling the promise in Philippians 3:21 with a new, perfect body like His own.