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Old and New Testament
Philippians 3:1-3 Commentary
things again is
trouble to me,
and it is a
Amplified: FOR THE rest, my
brethren, delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that
you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same
things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety.
Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot: And now, my brethren, I must wish you farewell. Rejoice in
the Lord. Forgive me, if I speak once more on an old topic. It is not
irksome to me to speak, and it is safe for you to hear.
In conclusion, my brothers, delight yourselves in the Lord! It doesn't
bore me to repeat a piece of advice like this, and if you follow it
you will find it a great safeguard to your souls (New
Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: As for the rest [of which I wish to say to you] my brethren, be
constantly rejoicing in the Lord. To be writing the same things to you
is not to me irksome or tedious, while for you it is safe. (Eerdmans)
As to the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord; the same things to
write to you to me indeed is not tiresome, and for you is sure;
FINALLY: To loipon:
(Phil 4:8; 2Cor 13:11; Ep 6:10; 1Thes 4:1; 1Pe 3:8)
(loipon from loipós = remaining) pertains to the part of
a whole which remains or continues and thus constitutes the rest
of the whole. Literally this phrase is as for the rest
and in every case, the use of this Greek expression has the idea of
something left over (furthermore, so then, now then would be
synonyms). Clearly Paul does not mean by this that he is about to
close his letter for half of the letter is still to come!
Paul is summing up all his
exhortations to the saints at Philippi.
In English when we hear the
preacher say "finally", we know the sermon coming to an end soon. But
that is not the way Paul uses finally in his letters for he frequently
uses loipon frequently in the concluding portion of his
Epistles (cp, Ep 6:10
2Cor 13:11, 2Thes 3:1)
often introducing practical exhortations but not necessarily implying that the epistle is drawing to a close.
In other words, he uses loipon to
mark a transition in the subject being discussed. In fact, there is
another "finally" in Php 4:8
As Wuest explains...
Paul has been concerned so far in
the letter with the internal dissensions, mild though they were, that
endangered the well-being of the Philippian church. Now he turns his
attention to a danger that would assail it from without, namely, the
Judaizers. These were Jews who were nominal Christians, who accepted
the Lord Jesus as the Saviour of Israel only, and who taught that a
Gentile had to come through the gate of Judaism in order to be saved.
They thus refused to accept the fact of the setting aside of Israel at
the Cross, and the bringing in of the Church at Pentecost. They wished
to continue under the Mosaic law. What happened in the Galatian
churches, Paul was trying to forestall in the church at Philippi.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
REJOICE IN THE
LORD: adelphoi mou, chairete (2PPAM) en kurio: (Phil
3:3; 4:4; Dt 12:18; 16:11; 1Sa 2:1; 1Ch 15:28; 16:10,31, 32, 33;
29:22; 2Ch 30:26,27; Neh 8:10; Job 22:26; Ps 5:11; 32:11; 33:1; 37:4;
42:4; Ps 97:1; 100:1,2; 149:2; Isa 12:2,3; 41:16; 61:10; 65:14;
66:11,12; Joel 2:23; Hab 3:17,18; Zeph 3:14,17; Zech 10:7; Mt 5:12; Lk
1:47; Ro 5:2,3,11; 1Th 5:16; Jas 1:2; 1Pe 1:6, 7, 8; 4:13)
Let this be the end of everything;
before you get to the end of it, and when you do get to the end of it,
“rejoice in the Lord.” It is incumbent upon us, as Christians, to
rise out of our despondencies. Joy should be the normal state of the
Christian. What a happy religion is ours in which it is a duty to be
happy! “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.”
It is your privilege, it is your
duty, to rejoice in God; — not in your health, your wealth, your
children, your prosperity, but in the Lord.” There is the unchanging
and unbounded source of joy. It will do you no harm to rejoice in
the Lord; the more you rejoice in Him, the more spiritually-minded
will you become. “Finally, my brethren.” That is, even to the
end, not with you the bitter end; but even to the end of life, rejoice
in the Lord. Make this the finis of everything, the end of
every day, the end of every year, the end of life. “Finally, my
brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” Blessed is that religion in which it
is a duty to be happy.
Rejoice in the Lord - He
could have said simply "Rejoice" but connects rejoicing with the
Person of Christ. Christians can rejoice because of their
relationship. They exist in the sphere of an intimate union with the
risen Christ and thus are enabled to rejoice as they abide in Christ
Jesus, the Vine.
Eadie adds that...
The modifying phrase in the Lord
does not mean, “on account of Christ,” or as becomes Christians,
but it defines the sphere and character of the joy. (Ro 14:17-note;
The Christian religion is no morose system, stifling every spring of
cheerfulness in the heart, or converting its waters into those of
Marah (bitterness). It lifts the spirit out of the thrall (a state of
being totally subject to some need, desire, appetite, etc) and misery
of sin, and elevates it to the enjoyment of the divine favour, and the
possession of the divine image; nay, there is a luxury in that sorrow
which weeps tears of genuine contrition.
Therefore, to mope and mourn, to
put on sackcloth and cleave to the dust, is not the part of those who
are in the Lord, the exalted Saviour, Who guarantees them
“pleasures for evermore.” Such joy is not more remote from a gloomy
and morbid melancholy, on the one hand, than it is, on the other hand,
from the delirious ecstasies of fanaticism, or the inner trances and
raptures of mystic Quietism.
Chrysostom remarks that this joy is
not “according to the world,” and his idea, according to his view of
the connection, is, that these tribulations or sorrows referred to,
being according to Christ, bring joy. This last opinion, however, is
not from the context, though certainly the first remark is correct,
for the joy of the world is often as transient as the crackling of
thorns under a pot; and it often resembles the cup which, as it
sparkles, tempts to the final exhaustion of its bitter dregs. The
express definition or limitation in the Lord may be meant to
show, that beyond the Lord this joy is weakened, or has no place; and
that, if the Lord Alone is to be rejoiced in, the Lord Alone must be
trusted in. The sentiment thus warned and fortified them against the
Judaizers, whose opinions, in proportion as they tended to lead away
from the Lord, must have retarded all joy in Him; while, if the
Philippian believers continued to rejoice in the Lord, that
emotion, from its source and nature, guarded them against such
delusions. The next clause has seemed to many to be an abrupt
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)
from a = denoting unity + delphús = womb =
born from same womb) is literally "of the same womb" and speaks of a
fellowship of lives based on identity of origin.
The apostle addresses the
Philippian converts, “as my brethren”. There was no official hauteur
with him, no such assumption of superiority as would place him in a
higher or more select brotherhood than that which belonged to all the
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)
Spurgeon writes that...
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in
the Lord.” But never do it finally, never come to an end of it.
Rejoice in the Lord, and yet again rejoice, and yet again rejoice; and
as long as you live, rejoice in the Lord.
(chairo) to be glad or delighted, to celebrate, to be
a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. Joy for the
Christian is marked by celebration and expectation of God’s ultimate
victory over the powers of sin and darkness. We should make a clear
distinction between joy and happiness, which is word related to
"happenstance" which defines that exhilarating feeling we all have
when things go well and circumstances are agreeable. The believer's
joy however is not contingent upon circumstances but upon
relationship. As we abide in the Vine, walk in the power of the Spirit
of Christ, under His control, we find that our joy persists in adverse
circumstances for it independent of those circumstances. Furthermore,
the believer's rejoicing is not a natural emotional response as we
experience when we are "happy", but a supernatural response because of
our spiritual union with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
It is a response based upon truth, including truths such as the
sovereignty of God, an assurance that He is in control, a truth which
comes from the Scriptures (which is another reason we need to daily
"eat" the bread of life, that we might be spiritually nourished and
strengthened in our inner man). Joy is the outflow of faith and faith
comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Ro 10:17-note).
Here Paul gives a command (imperative
mood) for the
Philippians to continually (present
Make the choice to rejoice. Wuest
says they are to "go on constantly rejoicing in the Lord".
It is not humanly possible to fulfill this command, which requires
supernatural energizing. Paul explains that the source of this joy is...
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Gal 5:22-See notes on Joy in
74x in 68v - Matt 2:10; 5:12; 18:13; 26:49; 27:29; 28:9; Mark 14:11;
15:18; Luke 1:14, 28; 6:23; 10:20; 13:17; 15:5, 32; 19:6, 37; 22:5;
23:8; John 3:29; 4:36; 8:56; 11:15; 14:28; 16:20, 22; 19:3; 20:20;
Acts 5:41; 8:39; 11:23; 13:48; 15:23, 31; 23:26; Rom 12:12, 15; 16:19;
1 Cor 7:30; 13:6; 16:17; 2 Cor 2:3; 6:10; 7:7, 9, 13, 16; 13:9, 11;
Phil 1:18; 2:17f, 28; 3:1; 4:4, 10; Col 1:24; 2:5; 1 Th 3:9; 5:16; Jas
1:1; 1 Pet 4:13; 2 John 1:4, 10f; 3 John 1:3; Rev 11:10; 19:7 NAS
= am glad(1), glad(7), gladly(1), greeted*(1), greeting(2),
greetings(4), hail(4), joyfully(1), make(1), rejoice(33), rejoiced(8),
psalmist illustrates this relationship between rejoicing and a
knowledge of the Word of truth writing...
our heart rejoices in Him, because
we trust in His holy Name. (Psalm 33:21) (See studies on
Names of the LORD as a Strong Tower
- because to trust this Name we must know this Name in its manifold
glory and we will have a foundation for rejoicing without ceasing.)
We, who trust, cannot but be of a
glad heart, our inmost nature must triumph in our faithful God.
Because we have trusted in his holy Name. The root of faith in due
time bears the flower of rejoicing. Doubts breed sorrow, confidence
In a similar
manner David confidently declares...
Thou wilt make known to me the path
of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy; In Thy right hand there
are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)
Spurgeon comments on fulness
of joy writing...
Christ being raised from the dead
ascended into glory, to dwell in constant nearness to God, where
joy is at its full for ever: the foresight of this urged Him
onward in His glorious but grievous toil (He 12:2-note).
To bring His chosen to eternal happiness was the high ambition which
inspired Him, and made Him wade through a sea of blood. O God, when a
worldling's mirth (gladness or gaiety as shown by or accompanied with
laughter) has all expired, for ever with Jesus may we dwell at Thy
right hand, where there are pleasures for evermore; and meanwhile, may
we have an earnest (down payment) by tasting thy love below. Trapp's
note on the heavenly verse which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel,
which may serve for a contemplation, and yield a foretaste of our
inheritance. He writes, "Here is as much said as can be, but words are
too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and
pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink
without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God's right hand, Who
is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of His hand; it is a
constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for
evermore. Heaven's joys are without measure, mixture, or end."
Here are some
other OT uses of rejoice. Notice who is rejoicing and what they are
(Save me) That I may tell of all Thy praises, That in the gates of the
daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Thy salvation. (Psalm 9:14) (Spurgeon's
But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice
in Thy salvation. (Psalm 13:5) (Spurgeon's
There is joy and feasting within
doors, for a glorious guest has come, and the fatted calf is killed.
Sweet is the music which sounds from the strings of the heart. But
this is not all; the voice joins itself in the blessed work, and the
tongue keeps tune with the soul, while the writer declares,
I will sing unto the Lord.
"I will praise thee every day, Now
thine anger's past away;
Comfortable thoughts arise From the bleeding sacrifice."
Be glad in the LORD and
rejoice, you righteous ones, And shout for joy, all you who
are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11) (Spurgeon's
Be glad. Happiness (joy) is
not only our privilege, but our duty. Truly we serve a generous God,
since He makes it a part of our obedience to be joyful. How sinful are
our rebellious murmurings! How natural does it seem that a man blest
with forgiveness should be glad! We read of one who died at the foot
of the scaffold of overjoy at the receipt of his monarch's pardon; and
shall we receive the free pardon of the King of kings, and yet pine in
In the Lord. Here is the
directory by which gladness is preserved from levity. We are not to be
glad in sin, or to find comfort in corn, and wine, and
oil, but in our God is to be the garden of our soul's delight.
That there is a God and such a God, and that He is ours, ours for
ever, our Father and our reconciled Lord, is matter enough for a never
ending psalm of rapturous joy.
And rejoice, ye righteous,
redouble your rejoicing, peal upon peal. Since God has clothed His
choristers in the white garments of holiness, let them not restrain
their joyful voices, but sing aloud and shout as those who find great
And shout for joy, all ye that
are upright in heart. Our happiness should be demonstrative; chill
(cold) penury (extreme paucity) of love often represses the noble
flame of joy, and men whisper their praises decorously where a hearty
outburst of song would be far more natural. It is to be feared that
the church of the present day, through a craving for excessive
propriety, is growing too artificial; so that enquirers' cries and
believers' shouts would be silenced if they were heard in our
assemblies. This may be better than boisterous fanaticism, but
there is as much danger in the one direction as the other. (Ed
note: Amen!) For our part, we are touched to the heart by a little
sacred excess, and when godly men in their joy over leap the narrow
bounds of decorum, we do not, like Michal, Saul's daughter, eye them
with a sneering heart. Note how the pardoned are represented as
upright, righteous, and without guile; a man may have many faults and
yet be saved, but a false heart is everywhere the damning mark. A man
of twisting, shifty ways, of a crooked, crafty nature, is not saved,
and in all probability never will be; for the ground which brings
forth a harvest when grace is sown in it, may be weedy and waste, but
our Lord tells us it is honest and good ground. Our observation has
been that men of double tongues and tricky ways are the least likely
of all men to be saved: certainly where grace comes it restores man's
mind to its perpendicular, and delivers him from being doubled up with
vice, twisted with craft, or bent with dishonesty. Reader, what a
delightful Psalm! Have you, in perusing it, been able to claim a lot
in the goodly land? If so, publish to others the way of salvation.
Spurgeon introduces his sermon on joy commenting that...
As for joy, if it be not the first product of the Spirit of
God, it is next to the first, and we may be sure that the order in
which it is placed by the inspired apostle is meant to
be instructive. The
fruit of the Spirit is love first, as comprehensive of the rest;
then joy arising out of it. It is remarkable that joy
should take so eminent a place; it attaineth unto the first three, and
is but one place lower than the first. Look at it in its high
position, and if yon have missed it, or if you have depreciated it,
revise your judgment, and endeavor with all your heart to attain to
it, for depend upon it this fruit of the Spirit is of the
utmost value...and it is brought forth in believers not alike in all,
but to all believers there is a measure of joy. (The
Fruit of the Spirit: Joy - Pdf)
dramatist Aeschylus (525-456 BC) concluded,
Joy [is] a beauteous spark divine.
Greeks it was a greeting, a wish for the happiness of one's friend. It
was also the object of fellowship, as seen in the festal joy of
religion. Greeks spoke, as we do, of "tears of joy."
Homer saw joy as
being rooted in human passions, as we may "feel" joyful. On the other
hand, the Greek Stoics (who are mentioned in Acts 17:18) had no room
for joy, which they regarded as a false judgment of reality. If you
felt joyful, you must be ignorant of the facts! Most of us know people
Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) declared:
When I think of God, my heart is
so full of joy that the notes leap and dance as they leave my
pen; and since God has given me a cheerful heart, I serve Him with a
Chambers the famous devotional writer concluded that
The joy that Jesus gives is the
result of our disposition being at one with His own disposition.
C. S. Lewis
Joy is the serious business of
a theologian, wrote that
Jesus Christ can put joy into the
joyless work of the 20th century.
Joy seems to be distilled from a
strange mixture of challenge, risk, and hope.
Shoemaker said that
The surest mark of a Christian is
not faith, or even love', but joy.
A noted preacher
in England H. W. Webb-Peploe once said that...
Joy is not gush; joy is not
jolliness. Joy is perfect acquiescence in God's will because the soul
delights itself in God Himself.
is a fruit of the Spirit it follows that those who can most
readily obey Paul's command to
are those who are continually being filled with (controlled by)
the Holy Spirit (Ep 5:18-note). The key to the Christian's joy is not found in
circumstances or people but in the Person of Christ as indicated by
the association with the phrase in the Lord . This phrase is found 9 times in this
short (joyful, joy full, joy filled) letter...
Philippians 1:14 (note)
and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of
my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God
Philippians 2:19 (note)
But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so
that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.
Philippians 2:24 (note)
and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming
Philippians 2:29 (note)
Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men
like him in high regard;
Philippians 3:1 (note)
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same
things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
Philippians 4:1 (note)
Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown,
so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Philippians 4:2 (note)
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
Philippians 4:4 (note)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:10 (note)
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have
revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but
you lacked opportunity.
Paul speaks of
joy before warning his readers of some of the top joy
stealers, especially the false teachers who have crept in among us and
claim to be members of the body of Christ ("dogs...evil
workers...false circumcision"). Watch out for these
individuals because they love
to steal your joy with their clever lies and devious deceptions.
TO WRITE THE SAME THINGS IS
NO TROUBLE TO ME: ta auta graphein (PAN) humin emoi men ouk okneron:
Same things -- a good teacher
emphasizes repetition. The probability is that he is going to take up
again several details he had already mentioned, such as, those who
were really spiritual antagonists (Php 1:15-note; cp
Php 3:18-note); the need of
standing fast (Php 1:27-note; cp
Php 4:1-note); dissensions and the need of unity (Php
Php 2:2, 3, 4-Php 2:2;
2:4; cp Php 4:2-note); the antidote, a glorying in Christ and allusions to
His union with His people (Php 1:20-note;
Php 1:22, 23-note;
cp Php 3:3-note,
To go over the same old truths
again and again, to proclaim the same precepts, and teach the same
doctrines, is not grievous to us, and it is safe for you to hear these
things again and again. If they have not made their due impression
upon you already, perhaps they will do so when they are repeated in
your hearing. At any rate it is safe for you to hear or read over and
over again the old, old story with which you are already familiar.
Some hearers are like the Athenian
academicians; they want continually to hear something new. The apostle
says, “To have the same things written to you, is safe.” So is it
for you, dear friends; to have the same gospel, the same Jesus, the
same Holy Spirit, made known to you, is safe. New doctrine is
Saying the same thing over and over
again is Safe, for your minds do not catch the truth at the first
hearing, and your memories are slippery.
is from okneo = to shrink, to hesitate, to delay) means that
which causes reluctance or is tedious or bothersome (upsets a person's composure
or which annoys and suggests interference with one's comfort or peace
of mind). It describes being afraid to act, hesitating, shrinking or
Paul is saying
it is not bothersome for him to repeat truth so that they might be
kept from being tripped up by false teaching. As Eadie phrases it "To
repeat the same truth is to me no task of irksome monotony." Biblical truth is always
the best safeguard from error!
Okneros is found 3 times in
the NAS (Matthew;
and is translated .lagging behind, 1; lazy, 1; trouble, 1. The KJV
renders it grievous, 1; slothful, 2.
TDNT writes that...
Like oknos, which means
“hesitation” through weariness, sloth, fear, bashfulness, or reserve,
okneros is used a. of persons in the sense of “showing
oknos,” “hesitating,” “anxious,” “negligent,” “slothful.” It
thus denotes one who for various reasons or difficulties does not have
the resolution to act... In the OT (Septuagint
or LXX) okneros
is often used in connection with rules of practical wisdom. Industry
and work are here part of pious but prudent conduct. Thus okneros...
depicts the slothful man who lacks the resolve to get to work (Pr 6:6,
9), who lets inconveniences stop him (Pr 20:4), or who, having no
resolution, never moves on from the will to the deed (Pr 21:25). In
contrast the continually active wife, who takes pleasure in work, is
extolled (Pr 31:27).
Impelled by the Spirit to equip
Christians adequately for salvation, Paul (here in Phil 3:1-note) overcomes
the dislike or distaste which might arise through repetition of his
admonition. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W.
Theological Dictionary of the New
Vincent writes that okneros
is found here and in...
Matt. 25:26; Ro 12:11-note, in both
(these latter) instances rendered slothful. (Ed note:
thus conveying more the idea of lazy, idle, not active) From okneo
to delay. Hence, in classical Greek, shrinking, backward, unready. The
idea of delay underlies the secondary sense, burdensome, troublesome.
It is the vexation arising from weary waiting, and which appears in
the middle English irken to tire or to become tired, cognate with the
Latin urgere to press, and English irk, irksome, work.
AND IT IS A SAFEGUARD FOR
YOU: humin de asphales: (Phil 2:17,18; 2Pe1:12, 13, 14, 15;
Spiritual joy is the best safety
against error (Jamieson,
Fausset, and Brown)
(asphales from a = w/o + sphallo
= throw down, trip up, totter, bring to the ground, make someone fall) literally
means that which cannot be thrown down, tripped up, tottered or
overthrown. It describes that which is secure and safe from stumbling
Asphales thus means firm, sure, secure, safety,
unshakeable, certain, steady, immovable (as of the anchor in He 6:19-note
- see below - or in Septuagint referring to the sky above in Pr 8:28)
and then figuratively referring to a state of safety, stability and
security which can be relied on and hence free from danger and secure
from peril. Asphales describes something that cannot be made to
totter when put to the test. In Acts 2:36 the related adverb
asphalos means certainly, surely, speaking of that which is known
beyond a doubt.
NIDNTT has the following
note on the uses of this word group in classic literature...
Asphaleia occurs in classic
Greek. with the following meanings: security against stumbling (Thuc.,
History, 3, 22), assurance from danger (Aeschylus onwards), caution
(in post-Christian writings), assurance, certainty (Thuc. History, 2,
11), the certainty or convincing nature of an argument (Xenophon,
Memorabilia, 4, 6, 15), and as a security, bond or pledge as a
technical law term (Arrianus, Epicteti Dissertationes, 2, 13, 7; BGU
1149, 24; P. Teb. 293, 19; The Amherst Papyri, 78:16). The adjective
asphales occurs from Homer onwards in the sense of immovable,
steadfast, unshaken, unfailing both literally and in the case of
friends etc., and safe both literally and figuratively. The verb.
asphalizo is used in the sense of secure, safeguard and, in 1st
cent. B.C. literature, arrest. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
Compare Luke's use of the noun form
asphaleia in his introductory comments writing... "so that you might
know the exact (asphaleia) truth (logos - word) about the
things you have been taught" (Luke 1:4) thus speaking of teaching or
instruction which affords certainty and reliability.
The related noun asphaleia
is found in the
Septuagint or LXX of
Deut 12:10 where Moses records that...
"When you cross the Jordan and live
in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He
gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in
security (asphaleia)" (Dt 12:10)
This word group was also used as a
technical legal term for keeping a prisoner securely guarded security
(see Acts 5:23).
The noun form asphaleia (803)
is used by Paul in the phrase "Peace and safety (asphaleia)" in 1Th
where the "safety" or security from peril is false and deceptive for
it is focused on this world which is passing away instead of looking
for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and
Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:11-note).
The verb form asphalizo (805)
is used by Matthew referring to Jesus' burial site where it was said
"give orders for the grave to be made secure (asphalizo)" (Mt 27:64)
and Pilate's orders "make it secure (asphalizo) as you know how
(referring to Jesus' grave). And they went and made the grave
secure (asphalizo), and along with the guard they set a seal on
the stone." (Mt 27:65, 66). Luke uses the verb form to describe the
incarceration of Paul and Silas writing that the jailer "threw them
into the inner prison, and fastened (asphalizo) their feet in
the stocks." (Acts 16:23).
Aphales is used in Hebrews
presenting every believer with a powerful word picture of our
unshakeable position safe in Christ...
(In the storms and trials of life)
This hope (embodied in Christ Himself and since we are "in Christ"
this reflects the truth that our glorification is as certain as if it
had already happened which is truth that should keep us from drifting
on the wild waves of doubt and despair) we have as an anchor (note
that the anchor is not cast onto the shifting sands of this world but
actually into the sanctuary in heaven = safe and secure!) of the soul,
a hope both sure (aphales) and steadfast and one which enters
within the veil (He 6:19-note)
Aphales is used 5 times in
the NAS and is translated certain, 1; definite, 1; facts, 1;
safeguard, 1; sure, 1.
Acts 21:34 But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some
another, and when he could not find out the facts (literally = not being
able to know the certainty) on account of the uproar, he ordered him
to be brought into the barracks.
Acts 22:30 But on the next day, wishing to know for certain
why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief
priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him
Acts 25:26 "Yet I have nothing definite (no certain thing)
about him to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him before you all
and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the investigation has
taken place, I may have something to write.
(note) Finally, my
brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble
to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
This hope we have as an anchor of
the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within
As noted above aphales is taken from a verb meaning to trip up, overthrow or
cause to stumble. Here the negative prefix ("a") is
added and thus describes that which has stability and firmness so as
not to be easily tripped up or overthrown.
Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those
mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
Bible - Lockman)
Be on your guard. Shun these shameless dogs, these workers of
mischief, these mutilators of the flesh. I call it mutilation,
on your guard against these curs, these wicked workmen, these would-be
mutilators of your bodies! (New
Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Keep a watchful eye ever upon the dogs. Keep a watchful
eye ever upon the evil-workers. Keep a watchful eye ever upon those
who are mutilated, doing this for the purpose of bewaring of and
avoiding the same. (Eerdmans)
look to the dogs, look to the evil-workers, look to the concision;
BEWARE OF THE DOGS: Blepete
(2PPAM) tous kunas: (Pr
26:11; Is 56:10,11; Mt 7:6,15; 24:10; Gal 5:15; 2Ti 4:14,15; 2Pe 2:22;
Literally he says "Look to the
dogs" with the implication that you will be warned against them. As
Eadie says "Observe them so as to understand them, the inference being
that when they are understood, they will be shunned."
perceive with your eyes. Have your eye on so as to beware of. Paul says to pay especially close attention to these men. Paul uses
three times in this verse, each time in the
(continual action called for = make this the habit of your life)
active voice (choice of your will = he can't force them)
(command not a suggestion).
Wuest conveys the sense of the verb tense and mood rendering it "Keep
a watchful eye ever upon". The idea is constantly observing with a
view to avoiding, constantly be looking at in the sense of continuing
to be wary.
Paul gave a similar, albeit
positive command in (Philippians
3:17 see notes)
exhorting the saints at Philippi to look closely at other believers
who were following Paul's example.
In the Sermon on the Mount,
Jesus gives a similar imperative, warning citizens of the Kingdom
of Heaven to continually
imperative) of the false
prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are
ravenous wolves. (see note
in the ancient word dogs here were mangy, flea-bitten, vicious,
starved scavengers, that tended to run in packs, dig through garbage
and occasionally even attack humans.
The poet Homer uses it of men and
women, implying recklessness in the former, and shamelessness in the
latter. Gentiles of the Christian era were called dogs by the Jews.
Paul uses kuon as an ironic
term of reproach which was also commonly used by the Judaizers to
express their contempt for Gentiles in general. In context this phrase most
probably refers to Jews who professed to believe in Christ but
depended upon keeping the rituals of Judaism for their salvation.
Their salvation was faith plus works which is not real
salvation. They insisted that unless one kept the Law of Moses, he would not be
saved. Paul regards this teaching as dangerous and subversive to the
true gospel of Christ.
Some commentators explain "dogs"
here in Philippians 3:2 as homosexuals on the basis of (Dt 23:17,18)
but I think this would not fit the context in view of Paul's
derogatory term ("false circumcision") that appears to describe
Spurgeon wrote that...
They are like to dogs. If they fawn
upon you, they will bemire you, if they do not bite you.
Eadie comments that...
This hard expression, dogs (kuon),
must be judged of by Eastern usage and associations. In very early
times the name was applied as an epithet of reproach. In Homer the
term is not of so deep a stain, especially as given to women; yet it
resembled, in fact, the coarse appellative employed among the outcasts
of society. Iris calls Athena, and Hera calls Artemis, by the term
kuon; nay, Helen names herself one. Il. 8.423, 21.481. In the
Odyssey, too, the female servants of Ulysses receive the same epithet.
Odyss. 18.338, 19:91, 154.
In countries to the east of Greece,
the term was one of extreme contempt, and that seemingly from the
earliest times. The dogs there were wild and masterless
animals, prowling in the evening, feeding on garbage, and devouring
unburied corpses, as savage generally as they were greedy. Isaiah
The fidelity of the dog is
recognized in the Odyssey, 17.291, and by Aeschylus, Agam. 607. But
rapacity and filth (2Pe 2:22) are the scriptural associations. Ps.
59:6, 14; 1Ki 14:11, 16:4, 21:19-compared with 1Sa 17:43; 2Ki 8:13. In Hebrew (this concept) was the epithet of the vilest and
foulest sinners. Deut. 23:18; Rev. 22:15. The term was therefore a
strong expression of contempt, and was given by the Jews to the
heathen, Mt. 15:26, as it is by Mohammedans to a Christian at the
present day, when, without often meaning a serious insult, they are in
the habit of calling him Giaour (A
giaour [Turkish: Gavur] is the Turkish word for infidel or nonbeliever
and is similar to the Arabic word
We must suppose the apostle to use the word in its general
acceptation, and as indicative of impurity and profanity. To indicate
more minute points of comparison, such as those of shamelessness,
selfishness, savageness, or malevolence, is merely fanciful. (Epistle
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)
Later in this same chapter Paul
describes those who might qualify as dogs or evil
workers writing that...
many walk, of whom I often told
you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross
of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and
whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
There are 32 uses of kuon in
(Exod 11:7; 22:31; Deut 23:18; Judg 7:5; 1 Sam 17:43; 24:14; 2 Sam
3:8; 9:8; 16:9; 1 Kgs 12:24; 16:4; 21:19, 23f; 22:38; 2 Kgs 8:13;
9:10, 36; Job 30:1; Ps 22:16, 20; 59:6, 14; 68:23; Prov 7:22; 26:11,
17; Eccl 9:4; Isa 56:10f; 66:3; Jer 15:3) Below are some figurative
uses in the OT
Deuteronomy 23:18 "You shall
not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the
house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these
are an abomination to the LORD your God.
Comment: The parallel use of
"hire of a harlot" and "wages of a dog" suggests that "dog" is a
Hebrew "epithet" for a male cult prostitute which was a common
practice in Canaanite so called "worship". This may help explain the
somewhat enigmatic term used by our resurrected Lord Jesus to define
those who will not be allowed to inhabit the New Jerusalem. see Rev
1 Samuel 17:43 And the
Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with
sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
1 Samuel 24:14 "After whom
has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog,
a single flea?
2 Samuel 9:8 Again he
prostrated himself and said, "What is your servant, that you should
regard a dead dog like me?"
Below are the other 4 uses of
kuon in the NT.
Peter instructs us to remember that
false teachers are true to their nature no matter how "spiritual"
they may appear for a time...
It has happened to them according
to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow,
after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire." (see notes
2 Peter 2:22)
In the Sermon on the Mount,
Jesus instructed believers...
"Do not give what is holy to
discussion of kuon), (see this turning away put into practice in Mt 10:14-15,
Acts 18:1-6, etc) and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they
trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
Luke uses kuon in his
description of Lazarus and the rich man writing that the poor man
longing to be fed with the crumbs
which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the
dogs were coming and licking his sores. (Luke 16:21)
The last occurrence of kuon
is in a figurative description in Revelation, John writing...
Outside are the dogs and the
sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters,
and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Rev 22:15-note)
Comment: Robert Thomas
explains that here in Revelation 22:15
“The dogs”...is a metaphor for the
morally impure as it is throughout Scripture. They represent
male prostitutes (Dt 23:18), Gentiles (Mt. 15:26), and Judaizers (Php.
3:2, 3), among other things (cf. 2Ki 8:13; Ps. 22:16, 20; Isa. 56:10;
Mt. 7:6; Mk 7:27). In the Orient dogs are scavengers and are objects
of great contempt. (Robert L. Thomas,
(Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995) (Bolding added)
Vine writes that
the epithet 'the dogs' is metaphorical here of the Judaizing
teachers and their ways, who had found their way into the churches (cp
Phil 1:15). It is used to suggest defilement and savagery, and homeless,
ownerless wildness, as with the prowling dogs of the east. It is
likewise a term of contempt or apprehension (1Sa 24:14; 2Ki 8:13; Ps
22:16, 20; Mt 7:6; 15:26; Rev 22:15)"
Wiersbe writes that
Like those dogs, these
Judaizers snapped at Paul’s heels and followed him from place to place
“barking” their false doctrines. They were troublemakers and carriers
of dangerous infection...(Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Barclay has a helpful note on
With us the dog is a well-loved
animal, but it was not so in the East in the time of Jesus. The dogs
were the pariah dogs, roaming the streets, sometimes in packs, hunting
amidst the garbage dumps and snapping and snarling at all whom they met.
J. B. Lightfoot speaks of “the dogs which prowl about eastern cities,
without a home and without an owner, feeding on the refuse and filth of
the streets, quarrelling among themselves, and attacking the
passer-by.” In the Bible the dog always stands for that than which
nothing can be lower. When Saul is seeking to take his life, David’s
demand is: “After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! after a flea!”
(1Sa 24:14, cf. 2Ki 8:13; Ps 22:16, 20). In the parable of the
Rich Man and Lazarus, part of the torture of Lazarus is that the street
dogs annoy him by licking his sores (Luke 16:21). In Deuteronomy the
Law brings together the price of a dog and the hire of a whore, and
declares that neither must be offered to God (Dt 23:18). In
Revelation the word dog stands for those who are so impure that they are
debarred from the Holy City (Rev 22:15). That which is holy must never
be given to dogs (Mt 7:6). It is the same in Greek thought; the dog
stands for everything that is shamelessly unclean. It was by this name
that the Jews called the Gentiles. There is a Rabbinic saying, “The
nations of the world are like dogs.” So this is Paul’s answer to the
Jewish teachers. He says to them, “In your proud self-righteousness,
you call other men dogs; but it is you who are dogs, because you
shamelessly pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He takes the very name
the Jewish teachers would have applied to the impure and to the Gentiles
and flings it back at themselves. A man must always have a care that he
is not himself guilty of the sins of which he accuses others. (Barclay,
W: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. The
New Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
Press. John Knox Press)
Marvin Vincent has a lengthy
note on "dogs" writing...
Dogs. Rev., correctly, the
dogs, referring to a well-known party — the Judaizers. These
were nominally Christians who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but as the
Saviour of Israel only. They insisted that Christ’s kingdom could be
entered only through the gate of Judaism. Only circumcised converts were
fully accepted by God. They appeared quite early in the history of the
Church, and are those referred to in Acts 15:1. Paul was the object of
their special hatred and abuse. They challenged his birth, his
authority, and his motives. “ ‘Paul must be destroyed,’ was as truly
their watchword as the cry for the destruction of Carthage had been of
old to the Roman senator” (Stanley, “Sermons and Lectures on the
Apostolic Age”). These are referred to in Phil. 1:16; and the whole
passage in the present chapter, from Phil 3:3 -11, is worthy of study,
being full of incidental hints lurking in single words, and not always
apparent in our versions; hints which, while they illustrate the main
point of the discussion, are also aimed at the assertions of the
Judaizers. Dogs was a term of reproach among both Greeks and
Jews. Homer uses it of both women and men, implying shamelessness in the
one, and recklessness in the other. Thus Helen: “Brother-in-law of me, a
mischief-devising dog” (“Iliad,” vi., 344). Teucer of Hector: “I
cannot hit this raging dog” (“Iliad,” viii., 298).
Dr. Thomson says of the dogs
in oriental towns:
“They lie about the streets in such
numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one’s way
over and amongst them — a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no
owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine
into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street;
and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their
territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep
up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any
European city. The imprecations of David upon his enemies derive their
significance, therefore, from this reference to one of the most odious
of oriental annoyances” (“Land and Book,” Central Palestine and
Phoenicia, 593). See Ps 59:6; 22:16.
Being unclean animals, dogs
were used to denote what was unholy or profane. So Mt 7:6; Rev 22:15.
The Israelites are forbidden in Deuteronomy to bring the price of a
dog into the house of God for any vow: Deut 23:18. The Gentiles of
the Christian era were denominated “dogs” by the Jews, see Mt
15:26. Paul here retorts upon them their own epithet. (Philippians 3: Greek Word
Matthew Henry comments that
calls the false prophets dumb dogs
(Isa 56:10), to which the apostle here seems to refer. Dogs, for
their malice against the faithful professors of the gospel of Christ,
barking at them and biting them. They cried up good works in
opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil workers:
they boasted themselves to be of the circumcision; but he calls them the
concision: they rent and tore the church of Christ, and cut it to
pieces; or contended for an abolished rite, a mere insignificant cutting
of the flesh.
OF THE EVIL WORKERS: blepete (2PPAM) tous kakous ergatas: (Phil
3:19; Ps 119:115; Mt 7:22,23; 2Cor 11:13; Gal 5:13; 1Ti1:19; 2Ti
3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 2Ti 4:3,4; Titus 1:16; 2Pe 2:18-20; Jude 1:4,10,
11, 12, 13; Rev 21:8)
Pritchard writes that...
The passage begins with a stern
word of warning. Evidently some false teachers had infiltrated the
church at Philippi and Paul wanted to make sure the congregation knew
how to handle them. In verse 2 he uses three exceedingly harsh terms
to describe these false teachers. He calls them “dogs” (not house pets
but wild dogs that roamed the streets) and “men who do evil” and
“mutilators of the flesh.” These men were immoral, influential and
injurious. They were zealous but wrong, active in the church but evil
in their influence. (From
Rubbish to Jesus - sermon by Dr. Ray Pritchard - November 1998)
Eadie notes that
The verb (Beware)
is repeated for the sake of emphasis, and not because a second class
of persons is pointed out to their wary inspection.
However prettily they may talk, if
they are workers of evil, beware of them.” By their fruits ye shall
know them.” Their speech may be clever, but if their lips be unclean,
beware of them.
Paul meant those Jews who made a
great point of circumcision; he calls them here “the cutters”, for
they mangled and cut the Church of God in pieces: “Beware of the
means perceive with your eyes. Have your eye on so as to beware of.
Paul says to pay especially close attention to these men.
(kakos) morally descriptive of those characterized by
godlessness with the implication of harmful and damaging bad. Kakos
describes their character as base and malicious.
(ergates from ergázomai = engage in an activity
involving considerable expenditure of effort) describes one who labors
or toils. They did not just do evil in the general sense, but in this
context they actually worked against the gospel of grace.
As Eadie says these men
but they were set on evil;
theirs was no inoperative speculation; they were not mere opinionists,
but restless agitators; they were not dreamy theorists, but busy
workers—earnest and indefatigable (unable to be tired out;
unflagging, persisting tirelessly) in the support and propagation of
their errors. (Epistle
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)
In the Gospel of Luke Jesus
illustrates with the story of a house where the head gets up and shuts
the door. When some come to the door and seek to enter he replies...
'I tell you, I do not know where
you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.' (literally
workers [ergates] of iniquity" or unrighteousness) (Luke 13:27)
Comment: These workers
are not specifically immoral men, but workers of the law, who because
of a legalistic approach to salvation are producing only
"unrighteousness." They are typical of the group seen here in
Paul appears to describe Judaizers who taught circumcision
was necessary for salvation and thus were evil workers for the kingdom
of God. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul addresses
another group of "workers"...
For such men (those were attacking
the credibility of Paul) are false apostles, deceitful (dolios
- describes Satan's servants who deliberately attempt to mislead other
people by telling lies & desire to gain advantage by deceiving using
deceitful cunning or duplicity) workers (ergates), disguising
(transfiguring, changing their outward appearance - Satan's worker's
most destructive efforts are accomplished when they transform
themselves, changing their outward appearance) themselves as apostles
of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an
angel of light.(2Cor 11:13,14)
Wiersbe tells the following
A lady was arguing with her pastor
about this matter of faith and works.
“I think that getting to heaven
is like rowing a boat,” she said. “One oar is faith, and the other is
works. If you use both, you get there. If you use only one, you go
around in circles.”
‘’There is only one thing wrong with your illustration,” replied the
pastor. “Nobody is going to heaven in a rowboat!”
There is only one
“good work” that takes the sinner to heaven: the finished work of
Christ on the cross (John 17:1-4; 19:30; Heb. 10:11-14).(Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
BEWARE OF THE FALSE
CIRCUMCISION: blepete (2PPAM) ten katatomen: (Phil
3:3; Ro 2:28; Gal 2:3,4; 5:1, 2, 3,6; Rev 2:9; 3:9)
Literally this reads "Beware
of the mutilation"!
The KJV says "beware of
the concision" where concision is an archaic term which means
to mutilate. Concision describes the mark on the flesh of the
Israelite who had submitted to the outward rite, but had never been
circumcised in heart.
Beware of the cutters off, those
who excommunicate and cut off others because they do not happen quite
to agree with them in certain rites and ceremonies.
The Judaizers in essence were
"mutilating" the message of the gospel of grace by adding law. The
danger of these deceivers (and remember deceivers are usually also
deceived which makes them especially dangerous because they really
believe the false dogma they are teaching! 2Ti 3:13-note)
was that this false teaching affected not only their own spiritual
lives but also those of their converts. Thus Paul used strong language
to warn those who would dare tamper with the Gospel writing...
As we have said before, so I say
again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that
which you received, let him be accursed (anathema - given up to the
curse and to destruction). (Galatians 1:9)
In Galatians 5:12 Paul
again does not spare words writing...
Would that those who are troubling
you would even mutilate (emasculate) themselves (or cut
themselves off as when one was made a eunuch)!
(blepo) in its simple definition denotes voluntary observation.
Blepo has the idea of constantly observing with a view to avoiding. In this context of course Paul commands (present
calls for continued vigilance - don't let down your guard because the
enemy deceivers are relentless - in this case they are Jewish
legalists, but practically speaking legalists are in most if not every
evangelical church) the
saints at Philippi to continually be on the "look out" for these
It appears likely that all three
terms refer to the same group of men, all of whom were false teachers
who sought to put believers under the Law, teaching that righteousness
was attained by works (keeping laws and rituals such as circumcision).
Eadie comments on the
false circumcision observing that this
term occurs only here, and the
apostle, in his indignation, characterizes the class of Judaizers by
it. Not that he could speak so satirically of circumcision as a divine
institute, but of it only when, as a mere manual mutilation, apart
from its spiritual significance, it was insisted on as the only means
of admission to the church—as a rite never to be discontinued, but one
that was obligatory as well on the Gentile races as on the descendants
of Abraham. The term justly designates the men whose creed was,
“Except ye be circumcised and keep the whole law of Moses, ye cannot
be saved.” Viewed in this light, and as enforced for this end, it was
only a cutting, and so the apostle calls those who made so much of it
“the slashers.” Chrysostom well says of them, that so far from
performing a religious rite,—“they merely cut their flesh.” (Epistle
of St. Paul to the Philippians)
from kata = intensifies + temno = to cut)
literally means a cutting down or (ironically) a mutilation.
Septuagint or LXX the
related verb katatemno is used to describe the mutilation that pagans
performed as part of their religious ceremonies. Thus Moses records
that the holy people, Israel,
"shall not make any baldness on
their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make
any cuts (katatemno) in their flesh." (Lev 21:5)
In first Kings we read that the
idolatrous pagan priests...
cried with a loud voice and cut
(katatemno) themselves according to their custom with swords and
lances until the blood gushed out on them. (1Kings 18:28)
Paul labeled these men "katatome" probably a play on
words for they attempted to "mutilate" the gospel or cut away
by preaching Christ plus ______ (works, Jewish ritual, law,
tradition). is closely related to "circumcision"
or peritome (peri = around + temno
= to cut) meaning literally to cut around. The false teachers
had so distorted the meaning of circumcision that it had become
nothing more than a useless cutting of the body.
had been ordained in the Law of Moses and did convey a spiritual
significance, distinguishing God’s people Israel in the OT from
the pagans. When this spiritual meaning is forgotten, then
peritome, circumcision, becomes katatome, a
mutilation, a butchering up, a mere cutting away flesh conveys no
merit or value in itself. Paul says keep watching out for these
“butchers”. The almost certainly taught that outward circumcision of
the flesh was necessary to salvation. Tragically these deceivers were
themselves deceived as Paul made clear in Romans "he is not a Jew
who is one outwardly; neither is
that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one
inwardly; and circumcision is that
which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his
praise is not from men, but from God."
(Ro 2:28, 29-note)
Barclay explains that...
There are two Greek verbs which are
very like each other. Peritemnein means to circumcise; katatemnein
means to mutilate, as in Leviticus 21:5, which describes forbidden
self-mutilation, such as castration. Paul says, “You Jews think that
you are circumcised; in point of fact, you are only mutilated. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
This false circumcision was
the counterfeit of the genuine spiritual circumcision which
Paul described in Colossians explaining that...
and in Him (speak of the believer's
inseparable union with Christ - union created by the Spirit and
effected by faith) you were also circumcised with a circumcision made
without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the
circumcision of Christ (see note
Eadie comments that
the blessing described in the verse
had been already enjoyed, for they were and had been believers in Him
in whom they are complete. Through their living union with Christ,
they had enjoyed the privilege, and were enjoying the results of a
spiritual circumcision. Why then should they suffer the incision of a
sharp flint or a glittering knife—in itself, at best, but a sign—when
they had already experienced the blessing of a circumcision that drew
no blood, and gave no pain—a circumcision “not made with hands”?"
Do you see how would this warning
might apply to the church?
re-phrases Paul's warning in Romans giving in a more modern "spin" --
For he is not a Christian who is one outwardly, nor is that “church
membership” which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Christian who
is one inwardly; and “church membership” is that of the heart, in the
Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Eadie sums up verse 2
The repetition of the verb (Beware)
proves the anxiety and stern ardour of the apostle. “For you it is
safe,” and their safety lay to some extent in being formally and
emphatically warned. Like three peals of a trumpet giving a certain
blast, do the three clauses sound with the thrice-repeated
verb—beware! That the same classes of persons are referred to, we have
The same men are described in each
clause—as impure and profane, as working spiritual mischief, and as
taken up with a puerile faith in flesh-cutting. In the first clause
you have their character, in the second their conduct, and in the
third their destructive creed. The absurd stress they placed on a mere
mutilation warranted the satirical epithet of the concision; but their
convictions on this point drove them into a course of mischievous
agitations, and they became the evil-workers; then from their belief,
character, and actings, they stood out as impure and shameless—as
dogs. Men who insisted on circumcision as essential to salvation made
the rite ridiculous—Judaized ere they Christianized. To circumcise a
Gentile was not only to subject him to a rite which God never intended
for him, but it was to invest him with a false character. Circumcision
to him was a forgery, and he carried a lie in his person. Not a Jew,
and yet marked as one—having the token without the lineage—the seal of
descent and not a drop of Abraham's blood in his veins. To hinge
salvation, especially in the case of a Gentile, on circumcision, was
such a spurious proselytism—such a total misappreciation of the Jewish
covenant—such a miserable subversion of the liberty of the gospel—such
a perverse and superstitious reliance on a manual rite, that its
advocates might be well caricatured and branded as the concision. The
rite, so misplaced, was both a fiction and an anachronism; for the
benefits of circumcision were to be enjoyed in Palestine, and not in
Europe, and enjoyed up to the period “of the abolition of the law of
commandments contained in ordinances.” What these persons were may be
seen in the Introduction. They might not have done damage as yet in
Philippi, but there was a danger of their doing so. Such a warning,
repeated, would put the Philippians on their guard and contribute to
their safety. (Ibid)
Philippians 3:3 for we are
For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in
spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride
ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on
what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical
advantages and external appearances—
Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot: for we are the true circumcision, we offer the genuine
service; we—you and I—Gentile and Jew alike—who serve by the Spirit of
God, who place our boast in Christ Jesus and put no trust in the
We are, remember, truly circumcised when we worship God by the Spirit,
when we find our joy in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in what we
are in the flesh (New
Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: For, as for us, we are the circumcision, those who by the
Spirit of God are rendering sacred service and obedience, and who are
exulting in Christ Jesus, and who have not come to a settled
persuasion, trusting in the flesh [human worthiness and attainment] (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for we are the circumcision, who by the Spirit are
serving God, and glorying in Christ Jesus, and in flesh having no
FOR WE ARE THE CIRCUMCISION:
hemeis gar esmen (1PPAI) e peritome: (Gen 17:5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11; Dt 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; 9:26; Ro 2:25, 26, 27, 28, 29;
4:11,12; Col 2:11)
peritome (Including Circumcision of
Scriptures on Circumcision
Excursus on Circumcision Of the
For (gar) introduces
Paul's explanation of why the false teachers (probably Judaizers) just
described have no right to claim they are the true circumcision.
Observe that Paul's claim that he and the believing readers were the
true circumcision is based on the three reasons which follow.
These are three marks of the true
Israel of God; have you all of them,-worshipping God in the spirit,
rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh?
- This pronoun is first in the Greek sentence adding emphasis. Paul is
including himself with the saints at Philippi, many of whom were
undoubtedly Gentile (see Acts 16 for his first European converts -
Lydia, the Philippian jailer, both Gentiles as far as we can discern)
Robertson agrees writing
that we refers to...
We believers in Christ, the
children of Abraham by faith, whether Jew or Gentile, the spiritual
circumcision in contrast to the merely physical (Ro 2:25, 26, 27, 28,
As Paul wrote to the saints
at Colossae, when one is in Christ by grace through faith...
there is no distinction between
Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian,
slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Col 3:11-note)
Similarly writing to the
Galatian churches he explained that...
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
circumcision - The NAS translators added the word "true" which is
not in the Greek but it fits well with the context (as an aside this
is why I recommend using a Bible translation which is literal and
which uses italics so that you know what they have added to the
original Greek text - NAS, KJV, NKJV, Darby, et al, use italics. The
ESV and NET are both excellent translations but neither use italics)
What Paul is saying here is that the circumcision God has always desired
is not an
external physical circumcision but an internal spiritual circumcision
of the heart.
This is the real circumcision,
which is of the spirit, and not of the flesh. The men who have
abandoned all confidence in themselves, the men who have come to rely
upon Christ alone, the men who “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no
confidence in the flesh,” those who care not for outward rites and
ceremonies, but who worship God in the spirit, — these are the true
Addressing primarily the Jewish
readers in his letter to the Romans (but applicable to all unsaved
readers) Paul explains that...
he is not a Jew who is one
outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which
is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (~ the Law); and
his praise is not from men, but from God. (Ro 2:28, 29-notes)
from perí = around +
témno = cut off) refers literally to cutting and removal of
the foreskin. Both the Old and New Testament also use the concept of
circumcision in a figurative or metaphorical sense (Click for in depth word study of
peritome) (See also discussion of
Scriptures on Circumcision)
circumcision here is spiritual
(figurative not literal) as elaborated elsewhere where Paul explains that now because of our
union with and position "in Him (Christ) (we, the moment we
believed in Him) were also circumcised with a circumcision made
without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh ("you
were made free from the power of your sinful self" [ICB], "of the
corrupt nature" [GWT], "...of your sinful nature" [NLT]) by
the circumcision of Christ". (Col 2:11-NOTE)
which parallels perfectly with God's charge in the OT to "Circumcise
therefore the foreskin of your heart" (Dt 10:16KJV), for
God has always been more concerned with our internal heart condition
over dead works of external formalism (Click for analysis of
for another discussion
on circumcision in context of the study of covenant)
WHO WORSHIP IN THE SPIRIT
OF GOD: oi pneumati theou latreuontes (PAPMPN): (Mal 1:11;
Jn 4:23,24; Ro 1:9; 7:6; 8:15,26,27; Eph 6:18; Jude1:20)
those who by the Spirit of God are
rendering sacred service and obedience, and who are exulting in Christ
Jesus, and who have not come to a settled persuasion, trusting in the
flesh [human worthiness and attainment] (Wuest)
[word study]) originally meant to render service of any sort
(Acts 7:42; 24:14) or service for hire (usually of a service rendered
willingly) and then came to mean the rendering of respectful
spiritual service or the service of worship. While
is not specially defined in Scripture, it broadly signifies direct
acknowledgment of God, His nature, attributes, ways and claims,
whether by word, in praise or thanksgiving, or by deed done in such
(quoting Vincent) makes an interesting point observing that...
The word worship is the
translation of the Greek word referring to the service of Jehovah by
His peculiar people, the Jews (see Acts 26:7 where "serve" = latreuo).
A Jew would be scandalized by the application of this word to a
Gentile. Paul uses it to designate the religious service and obedience
of the believer in the Church.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
MacArthur writes that...
True worship goes beyond
praising God, singing hymns, or participating in a worship service.
The essence of worship is living a life of obedient service to
Do not neglect doing good and
sharing,” exhorts the writer of Hebrews, “for with such sacrifices God
is pleased (Heb 13:16).
True worship involves every aspect
of life. (Philippians
3:1-3 Qualities of True Christian)
in the Spirit of God -
This describes the result of true
for all true worship to God is initiated by
(us), giving (us) the desire to obey Him and the power to do
what pleases Him." (NLT,
The Spirit of God is He Who dwells
in the hearts of believers, sent by God for this purpose. It follows,
indeed, as a natural inference, that if the Spirit prompt and guide
the worship, it will be spiritual in its nature. There is thus a quiet
but telling allusion to the external formalities of the Jewish
service, to which the dogmatists were so inordinately attached. The
Mosaic worship, properly so called, could be celebrated only on one
spot, and according to a certain ritual. Though of divine institution,
and adapted to express in a powerful form the religious emotions of
the people, it often degenerated into mere parade. It became a
represents Himself as
being satiated with sacrifices, and wearied out by the heartless
routine. Only on one altar could the victim be laid, and only one
family was privileged to present it. But the Christian worship may be
presented anywhere and at any time, in the hut and in the cathedral.
The Being we worship is not confined to temples made with hands, nor
yet is He restricted to any periods for the celebration of His
worship. Whenever and wherever the Spirit of God moves the heart to
grateful sensation, there is praise; or touches it with a profound
sense of its spiritual wants, there is prayer and service. How
superior this self-expansive power of Christianity to the rigid and
cumbrous ceremonial of Israel after the flesh, and especially to the
stiff and narrow bigotry of the concision! (Epistle
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)
In Isaiah God
described the counterfeit of Spirit initiated and empowered worship
"Because this people draw near with
their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their
hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition
learned by rote" (Isaiah 29:13)
that worship was not a matter of a physical place but an issue of the
heart addressing the Samaritan woman's statement that...
"Our fathers worshiped in this
mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men
ought to worship. Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is
coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you
worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship
that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. "But an hour is
coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father
in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His
worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship
in spirit and truth." (John 4:20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
that worship which pleases God "must (be) worship in spirit and
truth." This God initiated and God centered worship contrasts with the
rituals and ceremonies that ensnared the Jews of old and which today
entangle and deceive many who practice external acts thinking they are
truly worshiping "in
GLORY IN CHRIST JESUS: kai
kauchomenoi (PMPMPN) en Christo Iesou:
3:7, 8, 9; Ps 105:3; Isa 45:25; Jer 9:23,24; 1Cor 1:29, 30, 31; Gal
akin to aucheo = boast +
euchomai = pray to God <> auchen = neck
which vain persons are apt to carry in proud manner) means to boast
over a privilege or possession. The idea is boasting with exultant joy
about what a person is most proud of. Kauchaomai is a favorite
verb of the apostle Paul who accounts for 34 of the 36 NT occurrences.
It's frequent use shows the high spiritual level of the apostle’s
indicates glorying in Christ Jesus was their continual response.
expresses an unusually high degree of
confidence in someone or something being exceptionally noteworthy. As
used in the positive sense self-confidence is radically excluded and
all self-boasting is abandoned. Faith implies the surrender of all
They gloried not in themselves, or
in anything about themselves—not in circumcision or Abrahamic descent,
but in Christ Jesus, and in Him alone—not in Him and Moses—not
in Son and servant alike; gloried in Him; in His great condescension;
His birth and its wonders; His life and its blessings; His death and
its benefits; His ascension and its pledges; His return, and its
stupendous and permanent results. The spiritual circumcision boasted
themselves in Christ Jesus; the implication being, that the concision
boasted themselves in Moses and external privilege (Epistle
of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book)
To the believer his
exultation is in Christ Jesus, Who is the personal embodiment of all
his privileges, and in whom he glories, on the ground of His Cross. In
Galatians Paul contrasts two objects of boasting...
For those who are circumcised do
not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you
circumcised, that they may boast (kauchaomai) in your
flesh (they want to boast that they are disciples of these false
teachers). But may it never be that I should boast (kauchaomai),
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world
has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:13,14)
Centuries earlier God declared
through His prophet Jeremiah...
Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise
man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of
his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who
boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I
am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness
on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. (Jer
9:23,24) (quoted by Paul in part in 1Cor 1:29, 30, 31)
AND PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN
THE FLESH: kai ouk en sarki pepoithotes (RAPMPN):
(ouk) means absolute in contrast to relative negation. Paul is
using the strongest negative to deny that the natural man can do
anything of worth or value in the supernatural realm.
[word study]) is in the
perfect tense which
conveys the idea of coming to a settled persuasion regarding
something. Paul had come to a settled conviction as a result of a past
completed process of turning this matter over in his mind until he was
persuaded and thus confident that the flesh was of no value in the
spiritual realm. When did this happen for Paul? Undoubtedly the moment
the Spirit caused him to be born again. Prior to that Paul was in fact
quite confident in his flesh.
He had come to
understand the truth of Jesus' great declaration that...
It is the Spirit Who gives life;
the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and are life. (John 6:63)
In Romans 7 Paul wrote...
I know that nothing good dwells in
me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but
the doing of the good is not. (see note
In Romans 8 Paul
explained the adversarial relationship of the flesh and Spirit writing
do not walk according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh
set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are
according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on
the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does
not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do
so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are
not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells
in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not
belong to Him. (see notes
(Click discussion of
in this context represents man in his unregenerate state and
unredeemed humanness, in short picturing human ability apart from
in the religious or moral realm.
As Paul here shows he was (Phil 3:4-6), man apart from
God and out of agreement with God, man without the possession of the
Holy Spirit. Paul knew that there was nothing good within his flesh
For physical meaning
of flesh (our physical fleshly bodies) see (note
F B Meyer...
THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in
the Lord, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not
grievous, but for you it is safe.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
THERE is a difference of opinion amongst scholars as to the precise
meaning of the Apostle when he wrote this word "Finally." Bishop
Lightfoot, for instance, supposes that he had already said all that he
intended to say, and was bringing his letter to a dose. In that case
we should accept the alternative rendering, Farewell/ which is
suggested in the margin for Rejoice. This would justify the
paraphrase: "And now, my brethren, I must wish you farewell. Rejoice
in the Lord."
It is better, however, to hold that though Finally indicates that the
Apostle is approaching the end of the Epistle, it is not necessarily a
very near approach. (See 1 Thes. 4:1; 2 Thes. 3:1.) In this case we
might adopt the following paraphrase: "My letter draws to its dose.
Its key-note has been the duty of joy, and it shall be so to the end."
Three Christian duties are enjoined in this brief paragraph: We are to
rejoice in the Lord; we are to beware; and we are to examine ourselves
that we be of the true circumcision.
THE DUTY OF CHRISTIAN
Christian Joy. --The Joy, which is the fruit of the Holy
Spirit's work in the heart, coming next to love, and before Peace, in
the enumeration given by the Apostle in Gal. 5:22, is unlike anything
which is produced from the natural soil of the heart. It is altogether
peculiar to the regenerate soul. It differs from the overflowing good
spirits of perfect health, for it persists amid weakness and pain; it
differs from mirthful merriment, with its "quips and cranks," for it
persists in dark hours as well as bright; it differs from mere
happiness, for it persists amid the loss of all things. Those who have
seen it reflected on the face of God's children will bear witness to
the unearthly beauty of expression which it generates. Of this there
is a beautiful story told by Dr. Trumbull, who describes "What a boy
saw in the face of Adoniram Judson." One evening, he saw a stranger
arrive by train in his native town, whose appearance greatly attracted
him. He had never seen such a light on a human face before, and at
last it dawned upon him that the man was the great missionary, with
whose picture he was familiar. He hurried to summon his own minister,
and the little lad was soon forgotten as the two fell into deep
conversation; but the boy circled about them, steadfastly looking on
that face. Until the day he died, he was accustomed to speak of its
beautiful light that shone like the sun. That surely was the
reflection of this inner joy.
The "Solar Look." In the American version of Psalm 34:5, we
read, "They looked unto Him and were radiant." The "solar look" is a
well-known expression for the smile that shone on the face of Rowlands
of Llangeitho; and Margaret Fuller in her diary says, "Emerson came
into our house this morning with a sunbeam in his face." Nothing more
certainly indicates that we have fellowship with God than the radiance
of that joy in our step, bearing, and look. The joy of the Lord arises
from leaving all our burdens at His feet; from believing that He has
forgiven the past as absolutely as the tide obliterates children's
writing in the sand; that nothing can come which He does not appoint
or permit; that He is doing all things as wisely and kindly as
possible; that in Him we have been lifted out of the realm of sin,
sorrow, and death into a region of Divine light and love; that we have
already commenced the eternal life, and that before us for ever, there
is a fellowship with Him so rapturous and exalting that human language
can only describe it as unspeakable.
A Thing to be Cultivated. It is a duty for us to cultivate this
joy. We must steadfastly arrest any tendency to murmur and complain;
to find fault with God's dealings; or to seek to elicit sympathy. We
must as much resist the temptation to depression and melancholy as we
would to any form of sin. We must insist on watching the one patch of
blue in the dark sky, sure that presently it will overspread the
Heavens. We must rest upon the promises of God in certain faith that
He will triumph gloriously, and that the future will absolutely
vindicate the long story of human pain. We must cultivate a cheery
optimism, and an undaunted hope. We must resolve to imitate him, of
whom the poet sings, that he:
Never turned his back, but marched
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.
Rejoicing in the Lord.
Moreover, we are to rejoice "in the Lord." "In His presence is
fullness of joy, and at His right hand there are pleasures for
evermore." We need not relegate the fulfilment of these sweet words to
the far future, but now and here, as we live in fellowship with Him,
we shall discover that Christ's presence made real to us by the Holy
Spirit, is the "deep, sweet well of joy." We may not be able to
rejoice in our circumstances, friends, or prospects, but we can always
rejoice in Jesus Christ, whose Nature is the key to the understanding
and unlocking of all mysteries, the Well-spring of hope, the Day-star
in our hearts, till "the morning breaks and the shadows flee away."
It is not difficult to be bright and gay amongst comparative strangers
and friends, but often those who are at their best in the social
circle, are depressed and taciturn with the immediate inmates of their
homes. Does not the wife sometimes shyly confess to herself the wish
that her husband might shed the same genial warmth on the
breakfast-table, when they are together, as he did on the social
circle of the previous evening? But surely, if there is one company in
all the world where one should overabound with joy, it is among those
to whom our face is as the sun. If it is clouded, shadows fall on all
things, if it shines with unobscured beauty, all things partake of a
Do not be Afraid of Joy. "Thou shalt rejoice in all the good
which the Lord thy God giveth thee"; "Every creature of God is good,
and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." God
is always putting into our lives bright and blessed things to be used
for Him. Do not think it necessary to introduce thorns to your roses,
and clouds for the unflecked blue sky. God loves to see His children
glad, and so long as you are able to look up from the joy that fills
your heart to Him who gave it, connecting the gift with the Giver,
there is no reason why you should not drink to the full every cup of
blessing which He places in your hand.
We shall hear the Apostle returning to this injunction in Phil. 4:4.
To quote his own words, "To write the same things to you, to me indeed
is not irksome, but for you it is safe." Apparently, he was constantly
exhorting them to Christian joy, he was repeating the advice he had
often given, laying stress where he had often laid it, with him it was
"precept upon precept, line upon line," and the teacher who reaffirms
and repeats is sure to win in the end.
THE DUTY OF TAKING
The Duty of Taking Heed. Beware of Dogs. --He adds, "Beware of
dogs." Amongst the Ancients, dogs stood as representatives of certain
human qualities. For the Greek they stood for ferocity, impudence,
greediness; for the Jew, for degradation and uncleanness. In the
Apocalypse the term is applied to those who are destitute of moral
qualifications for entering the New Jerusalem--"Without are the dogs,
and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the idolaters, and
everyone that loveth and maketh a lie." Every traveller in the East
knows how herds of dogs prowl through the streets, each pack holding
its own street against all comers; they have neither homes nor owners,
feeding on the refuse of the streets, quarrelling amongst themselves,
and attacking the passers-by.
We are bidden, therefore, to beware of men of a quarrelsome and
contentious spirit, who under the guise of religion hide impure and
unclean things; and who are not only defiled, but defiling in their
influence. If, in our circle of friends, there is one whose influence
lowers the tone of our own life, who suggests and arouses thoughts and
desires that tend to the gratification of the flesh, the tendency of
whose conversation is towards the kitchen of our lower nature, rather
than to the observatory of our spirit life, it is our duty to be
carefully on our guard, and, if possible, to break off from
familiarity and even acquaintance.
And of Evil Workers. "Beware of evil workers." These are not
quite the same as evil doers. They are not set upon doing all the harm
they can in the world, but are fanatical, unbalanced, and unable to
distinguish between a part and the whole, magnifying some
microscopical point in Christianity until it blinds the eye to the
symmetry, proportion, and beauty of Heaven's glorious scheme. These
people are the "cranks" of our Churches; they introduce fads and
hobbies; they exaggerate the importance of trifles; they catch up
every new theory and vagary, and follow it to the detriment of truth
It is impossible to exaggerate the harm that these people do, or the
desirability of keeping clear of them, they are the pests of every
Christian community they enter; and their influence over young and
unwary spirits is in a high degree pernicious. The Apostle tells us
that when we speak, we must observe the "proportion of faith." No
exhortation could be more necessary, and whenever any person makes a
hobby of one special aspect of the Gospel, always agitating that one
point, exaggerating it, and concentrating upon it an amount of
attention that should be evenly diffused over the entire system of
truth, let us beware, for such an one, intentionally or not, is an
The Concision. Beware of the Concision. These years of the
Apostle's life were greatly embittered by the antagonism of the
Judaising teachers who dogged his steps. They did not deny that Jesus
was the Messiah, or that His Gospel was the power of God unto
salvation, but they insisted that the Gentile converts could only come
to the fulness of Gospel privilege through the Law of Moses; they
urged that Gentiles must become Jews before they could be Christians;
they asserted that if the new converts were not circumcised after the
manner of Moses, they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). Throughout his
whole career, the Apostle offered the most strenuous opposition to
these men and their teaching. He went so far as to say that they were
traitors to the highest traditions of the past, and that the rite they
insisted on, under such circumstances, and when viewed as a condition
of salvation by the Blood of Christ, was only a mutilation and cutting
of the flesh. It was not circumcision in the true, deep sense of the
term. The distinction lies between the words concision and
circumcision, the one "a cutting," the other a sacred rite.
Unauthorized Demands. Similarly, in our own time, we must
beware of those who say that men must pass through certain outward
rites before they can be saved. Still amongst us are to be found
teachers and writers, the purport of whose words certainly is that, in
addition to faith in our Lord, there must be certain acts of obedience
to the institutions of the Church. They demand baptism, attendance at
the confessional, and strict obedience to fasts, mortifications, and
acts of self-denial, as conditions of salvation. Against all these we
must be steadfastly on our guard, because they obscure and belittle
the Gospel, and divert men's thoughts from Him who is the only way to
It is specially difficult to be on our guard against these false
teachers, because they approach us under the guise of earnestness,
sympathy, and religious sentiment. It is not so difficult to watch
against the outwardly profane and rebellious, but the most wary may be
snared by the specious appeals of those who seem more religious than
themselves. It was therefore that the Apostle feared, in his time,
lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve with his subtlety, so
the minds of his converts should be corrupted from the simplicity
which is in Christ (2Cor. 11:3). It is when Satan comes to us as an
angel of light that he is most to be dreaded.
THE DUTY OR
analogue of circumcision in the Christian dispensation is clearly not
Baptism, but a "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh." We
must be circumcised in the "circumcision of Christ," i.e. in the
cutting away of all the energy of our self-life, the placing the grave
of Jesus between ourselves and the past, and the rising with Him into
a realm of liberty and victory, to which He passed by the door of
Resurrection (Col. 2:11, 12).
Specifically, the Apostle gives us the three notes of the true
circumcision, by possessing which, we show ourselves to be the true
descendants of Abraham, and in the true line of spiritual heredity and
blessing; "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that
circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is
one inwardly; the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and
not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God" (Ro 2:28,
Is our Worship Right? Do we belong to this holy category? Are
the three credentials on which the Apostle insists evident in us? Do
we worship God in the spirit? The word translated worship means first
to do servant's work, then to do religious service, and sometimes
priestly duty. Do we understand what it is to live in the temple of
worship, performing every duty as to the Lord? Is our worship, whether
in public or private, mechanical in outward posture and routine, or do
we know what it is to worship the Father "in spirit and in truth," and
"to be in the Spirit on the Lord's Day?" Do we glory (exult) in Christ
Jesus? Is He our boast and pride? Is following Him our highest ideal?
Is the pursuit of His "Well-done" our loftiest endeavour?
Is our Confidence Right? Are we amongst those who put no
confidence in the flesh? All through the Epistles the flesh stands for
self--the self that seeks to justify itself, that endeavours to
sanctify itself, that is always fussily endeavouring to win men for
God, but has never learned to be submerged beneath the mighty tide and
current of God's Spirit. If your religious life is one of self-effort
and self-complacency, you must stand back; it is not for you to handle
the priceless pearl; your eyes cannot detect its superlative beauty,
excellence, and worth. But let all humble souls, who have nothing in
which to glory, save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who put no
confidence in themselves, but wholly rest upon the unmerited grace of
God, lift up their faces with exceeding great joy. These are the true
children of Abraham.
Jake Parsons. Do we rejoice in Christ Jesus? Dr. James H. Taylor wrote
some years ago of the curious old New England character named Jake
Parsons. "The change in his life was notorious, so significant and
revolutionary had it been. He lay down to sleep one night an
absolutely drunken, worthless wretch, having well-nigh lost his power
of speech through his dissipation, loved only by the fragment of the
family that was left to him. He woke up the next morning an absolutely
changed man. For nearly forty years after that, he lived a life
without blemish or spot. Eight years after the change, someone asked
him what had produced it. This is the explanation he gave: "That
night, Jesus Christ appeared in my sleep. His face, as I saw it,
seemed so pure, so lovely, so friendly to me that when I awoke I
forgot my old vices, and so loved my Saviour that I could not
displease Him. He did not speak to me, He only looked at me; but His
look told me that there was hope for me, that I could be forgiven,
that I could be purified. I looked at Him, and cried like a child; I
felt that I was a vile, miserable, wicked wretch, filthier than a
dunghill. I cannot tell how I felt. When I looked at Him I was too
happy to be afraid; but when I looked at myself I was too afraid to be
happy. I forgot all about rum and tobacco, I was thinking so much
about Christ, so pure, so lovely, so beautiful, so friendly.'"
One who knew him well, so Dr. Taylor said, wrote: "For thirty-five
years he lived a blameless life, beloved by everybody. On a fine
summer morning, my friend writes, the glorious old new creature would
crawl out of doors, and seating himself on the grassy bank in front of
his humble home, turning his sightless face to the sun to feel its
warmth, would say: 'The door opened into heaven just a little crack. I
shall know Him. He will look just so.' So he lived until he fell
asleep in Jesus." God give us grace that till the eternal joy
overtakes us as a flood we may live in the joy of a similar vision.
B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians - A Devotional Commentary)
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