In Philippians 3, Paul cautions believers using very strong words to tell us to beware of people who will steal our joy by advocating that we put our spiritual confidence in our flesh rather than in Christ (2). He calls these people “dogs”. This word describes a pack of wild and dangerous dogs as opposed to a domesticated pet (as used in Matthew 15:26-27). He calls them “evil workers” meaning that what they are teaching is untrue and causes damage. He also calls them the “false circumcision”. This is a graphic word showing that they were spiritually mutilating others by their teaching that circumcision and keeping the Law were necessary for salvation. Some believe that it is possible that they were going as far as to teach that sincere faith went beyond circumcision to castration. OUCH!
Paul uses himself as an example to show that fleshly accomplishments are nothing to put our confidence in (4-6). Paul’s list of his own fleshly accomplishments was extensive:
Circumcised on the 8th day (which was in accordance with the Law) = His body showed the mark of being part of God’s people.
Of the Nation of Israel = He was part of the nation that had a covenant relationship with God (it would appear that some of the false circumcision described above were Gentile proselytes).
Of the tribe of Benjamin = The tribe which brought forth the first king of Israel (Saul) and which led Israel into battle; Benjamin was the only Patriarch born in the Promised Land; When the land was divided among the 12 tribes, the part which would be the location of the holy city of Jerusalem went to the tribe of Benjamin
A Hebrew of Hebrews = Unlike the Jews of the dispersion, Paul remembered and knew the language of their fathers and followed the orthodox customs as opposed to the more Hellenistic Jews.
As to the law, a Pharisee = He was more than a devout Jew. He was a separated one who had sworn off all normal activities to devote himself to God
As to zeal, a persecutor of the church = He was so zealous that he would try to destroy all who would oppose God (Acts 8:3; 9:1-2; 9:21; 22:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:13).
As to the righteousness which is found in the law, blameless = If anyone was qualified as righteous due to their obedience to the law, it was Paul.
But Paul, who had more reason for putting confidence in the flesh than most others, concludes that all those accomplishments were as worthless as CHICKEN POOP. If you think I am joking be sure to come back and read my blog tomorrow!