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Philippians 3:1-8

True and False Righteousness

3:1 Finally, my brothers and sisters, 1  rejoice in the Lord! To write this again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Beware of the dogs, 2  beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 3  3:3 For we are the circumcision, 4  the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, 5  exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials 6  3:4 – though mine too are significant. 7  If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, 8  I have more: 3:5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. 9  3:6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. 3:7 But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. 3:8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! 10  – that I may gain Christ,

1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.

2 sn Dogs is a figurative reference to false teachers whom Paul regards as just as filthy as dogs.

3 tn Grk “beware of the mutilation.”

4 tn There is a significant wordplay here in the Greek text. In v. 2 a rare, strong word is used to describe those who were pro-circumcision (κατατομή, katatomh, “mutilation”; see BDAG 528 s.v.), while in v. 3 the normal word for circumcision is used (περιτομή, peritomh; see BDAG 807 s.v.). Both have τομή (the feminine form of the adjective τομός [tomo"], meaning “cutting, sharp”) as their root; the direction of the action of the former is down or off (from κατά, kata), hence the implication of mutilation or emasculation, while the direction of the action of the latter is around (from περί, peri). The similarity in sound yet wide divergence of meaning between the two words highlights in no uncertain terms the differences between Paul and his opponents.

5 tc The verb λατρεύω (latreuw; here the participial form, λατρεύοντες [latreuonte"]) either takes a dative direct object or no object at all, bearing virtually a technical nuance of “worshiping God” (see BDAG 587 s.v.). In this text, πνεύματι (pneumati) takes an instrumental force (“by the Spirit”) rather than functioning as object of λατρεύοντες. However, the word after πνεύματι is in question, no doubt because of the collocation with λατρεύοντες. Most witnesses, including some of the earliest and best representatives of the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine texts (א* A B C D2 F G 0278vid 33 1739 1881 Ï co Ambr), read θεοῦ (qeou; thus, “worship by the Spirit of God”). But several other important witnesses (א2 D* P Ψ 075 365 1175 lat sy Chr) have the dative θεῷ (qew) here (“worship God by the Spirit”). Ì46 is virtually alone in its omission of the divine name, probably due to an unintentional oversight. The dative θεῷ was most likely a scribal emendation intended to give the participle its proper object, and thus avoid confusion about the force of πνεύματι. Although the Church came to embrace the full deity of the Spirit, the NT does not seem to speak of worshiping the Spirit explicitly. The reading θεῷ thus appears to be a clarifying reading. On external and internal grounds, then, θεοῦ is the preferred reading.

6 tn Grk “have no confidence in the flesh.”

7 tn Grk “though I have reason for confidence even in the flesh.”

8 tn Grk “flesh.”

9 sn A Pharisee was a member of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.

10 tn The word here translated “dung” was often used in Greek as a vulgar term for fecal matter. As such it would most likely have had a certain shock value for the readers. This may well be Paul’s meaning here, especially since the context is about what the flesh produces.

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