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A. Point of Emphasis — “Finally, my brethren”

Carson: “What Paul is doing is picking up the theme of rejoicing he introduced in 2:17-18.”

Gromacki: “… designates an abrupt change in subject matter.”

B. Point of the Command — “rejoice in the Lord”

Start with the most basic of things; fundamental

Boice: “What is joy? Joy is a supernatural delight in God and God’s goodness. And it is a very different thing from happiness… Happiness is circumstantial, but not joy. Joy is an inner quality of delight in God, or gladness, and it is meant to spring up within the Christian in a way totally unrelated to the adversities or circumstantial blessings of this life.”

C. Point to Remember — We need to be reminded

“To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.”

2 Pet. 1:12; Acts 20:29-31


Racer: “Pernicious enemies of grace and truth”

probably 3 designations of the same troublesome group (Judaizers), rather than 3 different groups; unbelieving Jews; former colleagues of Paul

A. Their Character — “dogs”

Paul turns the tables on the legalistic Jews who would have used this derogatory term (filthy scavengers roaming the streets) as one of contempt for the Gentiles.

Racer: Scoundrels; keep nipping at your heels; chased Paul from town to town

MacArthur: What is startling here is that Paul, a Jew, calls Jews dogs. That’s turning the table. That is a serious statement. You wonder sometimes why Paul was not popular. That statement would not make him popular…not popular. He is saying, in effect, beware of those people who self-righteously call other dogs but they’re the dogs. They accuse others of shamelessly attacking the truth and they are shamelessly attacking the truth. Are dogs unclean and filthy? So are they. Are dogs snarling and howling and vicious? So are they. Are dogs dangerous and able to wound and even kill? So are they. Stay away from them. Stay away from those dangerous filthy snarling howling wild attacking false teachers who parade themselves as if they are the virtuous ones, but they are deadly, they are dangerous, they are dirty. And he’s talking about people who are religious. He’s talking about people who say we must obey the law of God.

B. Their Conduct — “evil workers”

Racer: “They undermine grace; they undermine the experience of the gospel after salvation for others… Grace is meant to bring freedom to every area of our life in a way that does not lead to licentiousness on the other end of the spectrum… Diminishing the work of Christ in other people’s lives… taking something that is good and distorting it.”

Gromacki: “This warning describes their conduct. They were ‘workers’ in that they aggressively promoted their beliefs. They were working for their own salvation, and they attempted to influence others to accept legalism as an additional requirement with faith as the grounds for divine acceptance. They were like the hypocritical Pharisees who travelled anywhere just to make one proselyte (Matt. 23:15).

C. Their Creed — “false circumcision”

Racer: “Provided physical evidence that you have submitted to the gospel … figuratively speaking: mutilating the freedom of the gospel, not meant to be about externalism anymore but about the heart and spiritual circumcision … the heart should not remain hard and calloused but be repentant and broken

Gromacki: “The term ‘concision’ (katatomen) refers to severe mutilation, a thorough cutting. This descriptive title must be seen in contrast to genuine circumcision (peritome) which is based upon the same verb stem. The Judaizers were literally cutting down (kata), whereas circumcision involved a cutting around (peri). Physical mutilations, practiced in pagan idolatry, were prohibited by God through Moses (Lev. 21:5; I Kings 18:28).”


A. “the true circumcision”

B. “who worship in the Spirit of God”

C. “and glory in Christ Jesus”

D. “and put no confidence in the flesh”

Bruce: “External ceremonies are henceforth irrelevant. Physical circumcision has been replaced by the circumcision of the heart which ‘is the work of God’s Spirit, not of the written Law’ (Rom. 2:29). The word rendered external ceremonies is literally translated ‘flesh’ (Gk. sarx); Paul uses this word not only in its ordinary sense but also to denote unregenerate human nature and sometimes to include practically everything, apart from God, in which people mistakenly put their trust.”


Paul is the best person to expose the futility of confidence in the flesh:

“although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more.”

A. Futility of Trusting in Religious Rites

“circumcised the eighth day”

B. Futility of Trusting in Religious Pedigree

“of the nation of Israel”

“of the tribe of Benjamin”

“a Hebrew of the Hebrews”

Wiersbe: “He was born into a pure Hebrew famly and entered into a covenantal relationship when he was circumcised. He was not a proselyte, nor was he descended from Ishmael (Abraham’s other son) or Esau (Isaac’s other son). The Judaizers would understand Paul’s reference to the tribe of Benjamin, because Benjamin and Joseph were Jacob’s favorite sons. They were born to Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife. Israel’s first king came from Benjamin, and this little tribe was faithful to David during the rebellion under Absalom. Paul’s human heritage was something to be proud of! When measured by this standard, he passed with flying colors.”

C. Futility of Trusting in Religious Knowledge (Orthodoxy)

“as to the Law, a Pharisee”

D. Futility of Trusting in Religious Zeal (Commitment)

“as to zeal, a persecutor of the church”

E. Summary / Final Verdict: Supreme Example of Legalistic Self-Righteousness

“as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless”

Wiersbe: “Like most ‘religious’ people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven! It was not bad things that kept Paul away from Jesus — it was good things! He had to lose his ‘religion’ to find salvation.


This is an accounting perspective — concerned with profits vs. losses

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

Carson: “Here, then, Paul exposes his fundamental values. On one side stands everything the world has to offer, including the privileged world of learned and disciplined Judaism. On the other side stands Jesus Christ and ‘the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.’ Paul insists that there is no contest; Jesus and the righteousness from God that Jesus secures are incomparably better.”

Wiersbe: “The key word in Philippians 3:1-11 is count (vv. 7-8, 13). In the Greek, two different words are used, but the basic idea is the same: to evaluate, to assess. ‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’ said Socrates. Yet, few people sit down to weigh seriously the values that control their decisions and directions. Many people today are the slaves of ‘things,’ and as a result do not experience real Christian joy.”