Have you ever been called a bad name? It can’t be as bad as the recipients of Paul’s anger in Philippians 3. Whatever you’ve been called — however bad it may have seemed — hasn’t been read over and over and over and over again for 2000 years. So, after reading today, do you think Paul takes the purity of the gospel seriously? He sure does. He comes at those who twist the gospel with pretty harsh words.
“dogs” “evildoers” “mutilators”
These aren’t exactly the terms you throw around in casual conversation. He was making a point. While he tells the Philippians to be gracious and loving, he also shows them that the gospel must be protected at all costs. Those teaching circumcision as a requirement for salvation (*similar argument today with those contending for a baptismal regeneration theology) were twisting the gospel. These “Judaizers” missed the grace found in the true way of salvation: repentance and faith in Jesus.
This is a helpful note from the ESV Study Bible on Paul’s harsh rebuke:
‘Dogs’ was not only a general term of derision in the ancient world, it was particularly a word used by some Jews in reference to Gentiles, who were considered ritually unclean. With biting irony, Paul says that the Judaizers, not the Gentiles, deserve that label. Paul’s irony continues as he labels those who extol good works of the law as evildoers and those who mutilate the flesh. This last phrase (Greek: tēn katatomēn) is a play on words with circumcision (Greek: peritomē). The Judaizers’ supposed badge of pride turns out to be the sign of their destruction.
On to the next section of today’s passage.
Philippians 3:4-11 is awesome. Paul walks us into the trophy room of religious success. He gives us the tour. We get to look around in awe…. and then he calls it garbage in comparison to knowing Jesus.
This is a good reminder for each and every Christian today. No matter what we’ve done for God or how good we think we are, nothing is greater than being a child of the King! Everything else pales in comparison. This is also a good reminder for each and every non-believer today. The family you were born into, the good you’ve done, the church you attend, and the religious rules you’ve followed — none of these get you into heaven. Only the resurrected Jesus can do that. You don’t get to show Jesus your moral/religious trophy room as your ticket to heaven. You need to throw yourself on His mercy and embrace the forgiveness He offered you at the cross.
CPC family: what did God teach you today through this passage?
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor