The Meaning of Philippians 3:17 Explained

Philippians 3:17

KJV: Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

YLT: become followers together of me, brethren, and observe those thus walking, according as ye have us -- a pattern;

Darby: Be imitators all together of me, brethren, and fix your eyes on those walking thus as you have us for a model;

ASV: Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.

What does Philippians 3:17 Mean?

Verse Meaning

This verse is transitional. It applies equally well to what precedes and to what follows.
Paul"s advice might appear to some as egocentric. Nonetheless the reason he encouraged others to follow his example was that he was following Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1). Those who walked after Paul"s pattern of life included Timothy and Epaphroditus. In Philippians , Paul typically gave warnings and then followed them up with encouragements in the form of good examples.
"At issue throughout is living a cruciform existence, discipleship marked by the cross and evidenced by suffering on behalf of Christ." [1]
Paul introduced this section with an exhortation to rejoice ( Philippians 3:1) and a warning against Judaizing false teachers who would rob the readers of their joy ( Philippians 3:2). He then explained his own view of the Christian life ( Philippians 3:3-14) and gave a final admonition to adopt his attitude ( Philippians 3:15-17). This was appropriate since his view differed radically from what the Judaizers taught, and it expressed the mind of Christ ( Philippians 2:5-11).
Paul had previously used the examples of Jesus Christ ( Philippians 2:5-11), himself ( Philippians 2:17-18), Timothy ( Philippians 2:19-24), and Epaphroditus ( Philippians 2:25-30) to challenge his readers. In this section his own example encourages us again to make Jesus Christ the focus of our lives. Many Christians are not very effective because they try to do too many different things. Paul had one clearly defined goal in relation to Christ: to get to know His Savior better and better.

Context Summary

Philippians 3:13-21 - Pressing On "unto The Prize"
The nearer the saint comes to the perfect life, the farther he feels from it. It is only when we have climbed the foothills that we realize how lofty the mountain summits are. But there is no need for discouragement. We have eternity before us, the expanding landscape of truth is our inspiration, and the loving Spirit of God bears us upward on eagle's wings. Our Savior had a distinct purpose in view when He apprehended us. Its full scope was only known to Him; let us strive that we may not fail to realize His ideal. We can do this best by forgetting past failures, past sins, and past successes, and pressing on toward the goal. Will not the prize be the Lord Himself? Let us always remember that God's call is upward. This will help us when there seems collision between two duties.
Instead of judging another, let us walk together along the path of obedience. Those who leave the narrow track and still profess godliness are greater enemies to the Cross than avowed antagonists. We are citizens of the skies, who come forth to spend a few hours each day on earth. This is our inn, yonder is our true home. Thence Jesus will come to complete the work of salvation by giving us a body like His own. [source]

Chapter Summary: Philippians 3

1  He warns them to beware of the false teachers;
4  showing that himself has greater cause than they to trust in the righteousness of the law;
7  which he counts as loss, to gain Christ and his righteousness;
12  acknowledging his own imperfection and pressing on toward the goal;
15  He exhorts them to be thus minded;
17  and to imitate him,
18  and to decline carnal ways

Greek Commentary for Philippians 3:17

Imitators together of me [συνμιμηται μου]
Found only here so far, though Plato uses συμμιμεισται — summimeisthai “Vie with each other in imitating me” (Lightfoot). [source]
Mark [σκοπειτε]
Old verb from σκοπος — skopos (Phlippians 3:14). “Keep your eyes on me as goal.” Mark and follow, not avoid as in Romans 16:17. An ensample (τυπον — tupon). Originally the impression left by a stroke (John 20:25), then a pattern (mould) as here (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 5:14; Romans 6:17). [source]
An ensample [τυπον]
Originally the impression left by a stroke (John 20:25), then a pattern (mould) as here (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 5:14; Romans 6:17). [source]
Followers together of me [συμμιμηταί μου]
Only here in the New Testament. Rev., more correctly, imitators. Compare 1 Corinthians 11:1. Not imitators of Christ in common with me, but be together, jointly, imitators of me. [source]
Mark [σκοπεῖτε]
See on looking, Phlippians 2:4. [source]
So as [οὕτως καθὼς]
Rev., “which so walk even as ye have,” etc. The two words are correlative. Briefly, imitate me and those who follow my example. [source]

What do the individual words in Philippians 3:17 mean?

Imitators together of me be brothers and observe those thus walking as you have [for] a pattern us
Συμμιμηταί μου γίνεσθε ἀδελφοί καὶ σκοπεῖτε τοὺς οὕτω περιπατοῦντας καθὼς ἔχετε τύπον ἡμᾶς

Συμμιμηταί  Imitators  together 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: συμμιμητής  
Sense: an imitator of others.
μου  of  me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἀδελφοί  brothers 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
σκοπεῖτε  observe 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: σκοπέω  
Sense: to look at, observe, contemplate.
τοὺς  those 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
οὕτω  thus 
Parse: Adverb
Root: οὕτως  
Sense: in this manner, thus, so.
περιπατοῦντας  walking 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: περιπατέω  
Sense: to walk.
ἔχετε  you  have 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἔχω  
Sense: to have, i.e. to hold.
τύπον  [for]  a  pattern 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: τυπικῶς 
Sense: the mark of a stroke or blow, print.
ἡμᾶς  us 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Accusative 1st Person Plural
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.