A study of Philippians 3:4-7 presents Paul’s religious credentials, affirms his religious devotion, and discounts it all for the sake of Christ.
A study of Philippians 3:4-7 presents Paul’s religious credentials
There’s a popular “one up” game we often play. Sometimes called bragging rights. I tell you about the 10 pound bass I caught and you tell me about the 15 pounder you snagged. And Paul plays the game masterfully with a specific teaching point in mind.
V.4 If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more.
Experts who speak to audiences usually list credentials that support their expertise. And in Philippians 3:4-7, Paul shares his. Not to brag. But to say he has plenty to brag about if he put his confidence in the flesh. In other words, from strictly a human perspective, his qualifications are outstanding.
V. 5 circumcised on the eighth day…
A highly regarded family name reflects favorably on individual family members. So Paul begins with his family’s good reputation in the Jewish community. They properly followed the religious law that required circumcising boys on the eighth day after birth.
The people of Israel…
He’s also a citizen by birth in the nation of Israel. And therefore part of God’s chosen people.
The tribe of Benjamin…
The small tribe of Benjamin held a special position and played an important role in the history of Israel. It also produced several significant people including Ehud, a warrior and one of Israel’s Judges, Queen Esther who saved her people from genocide, and Saul, the first king of Israel.
A Hebrew of Hebrews…
Paul preached to the gentiles and wrote his New Testament letters in Greek. But he was raised in and spoke Hebrew–the ancient language of his race. And scholars say the language in spoke in Acts 22:2 was probably Aramaic, another distinctly Jewish language. His fluency in both demonstrates his faithfulness to traditional Hebrew culture.
As to the law, a Pharisee…
He’s talking about the Jewish, religious law. The Pharisees were a religious, Jewish group who rigorously upheld it. They were the super religious people of their day and demonstrated a zeal that bordered on fanatical. But were also the ones Jesus criticized the most for their self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
REFLECT AND RECORD
Think about a time you engaged in bragging competition. What did it involve? How did it end? What are your thoughts about the motivations behind comparing and competing? How is this transferred to our spiritual lives?
A study of Philippians 3:4-7 affirms Paul’s religious devotion
Paul possessed more than a religious pedigree. He demonstrated religious action. Did the right things. Walked his talk.
As to zeal a persecutor of the church…
His zeal as a Pharisee is shown in his active participation in persecuting the early Christian church. Although it was a misguided zeal that Jesus corrected when he appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.
Righteousness under the law, blameless…
Paul is not claiming perfection before God. But is referring to his commitment to the Old Testament law. In other words, he’s saying if following the law is how you grade righteousness, then I score at the top of the class.
A study of Philippians 3:4-7 discounts it all for the sake of Christ
All those religious credits. Accomplishments. And good works tokens. They meant nothing to Paul. Because they were all about punching a religious “do good” ticket. Even though it characterized his religious life before he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. That’s when God redirected Paul and he made a spiritual U-turn.
From good works, to a relationship with Jesus.
V. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
And now, Paul makes his main point. If good works is the measurement God uses for judging righteousness then Paul’s in good standing compared to other people. But it’s a relationship with Jesus that makes us righteous before God. Therefore, all he gains through good works, he counts as loss. Because his attention is focused on Jesus Christ. And where we should focus our attention too.
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