Philippians 3:1-11 Confidence In The Flesh, Or Confidence In Christ.
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” (v. 1a; Cf. 4:4) Paul always comes back to joy and rejoicing (Cf. I Th. 5:16). It is as though this is the chief sign that one is in the family-shear, unadulterated joy! He also thinks it prudent to write of the same things yet again. Though tedious it was better to be safe, knowing the true hope of their salvation, and to beware of false teachers. These are evil workers, dogs. But lest one think of drunks and thieves, Paul has in mind the Judaizers who sought to keep the imposition of the old covenant administration of circumcision-the “mutilation.” (v. 2 Cf. Rom. 2:28) They sinned by putting their confidence in the flesh. They took what was I tended to be a mark of the covenant of grace and converted into a works righteousness. Those who live in true continuity with the patriarchs are those who saw in Jesus the one spoken of in the law and the prophets, “who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (v. 3 Cf. Dt. 30:6) One can just imagine Paul’s opponents saying that Paul was teaching what he was teaching because he didn’t meet the external requirements of the law, but few if any could boast beyond his credentials.
The Judaizers really symbolize all those who believe that human beings can have something to do with their membership in God’s family. In putting their confidence in the flesh they fail to put that confidence in Christ and His grace. As far as boasting, Paul had plenty to boast of, to which they looked (vv. 4-6 Cf. Gen. 17:12; Acts 8:3; 22:4-5; 23:6; 26:9-11; Rom. 11:1; II Cor. 5:16; 11:18, 22-23). But these things he counted as a loss compared to being in Christ (v. 7 Cf. Mt. 13:44). Everything was rubbish compared to gaining Christ, for which he was more than willing to suffer (v. 8). Gaining Christ meant not having a righteousness of his own, but standing with the righteousness that comes by faith (v. 9 Cf. Rom. 1:17; 10:3). Justification was only the beginning. Paul wanted to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (v. 10 Cf. Rom. 6:3-5; Eph. 1:19-20) Paul wanted to partner with His Lord and labour for His cause and kingdom. He knew, that whatever means the Lord would do it, that he would also share in His resurrection (v. 11 Cf. Acts 26:6-8). Paul covers his abbreviated version of the order of salvation with justification (v. 9), sanctification (v. 10), and glorification (v. 11).