Philippians 3:3
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) We are the circumcision.—So in Colossians 2:11-12, evidently alluding to baptism as the spiritual circumcision, he says, “In whom ye were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” Comp. Romans 2:20, “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter;” and passages of a similar character in the Old Testament, such as Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts;” Deuteronomy 30:6, “The Lord God will circumcise thine heart.” Hence the spirit of St. Stephen’s reproach, “Ye uncircumcised in heart and ears” (Acts 7:51).

Which worship God in the spirit . . .—The true reading here is, who worship by the Spirit of God, the word “worship,” or service, being that which is almost technically applied to the worship of the Israelites as God’s chosen people (Acts 26:7; Romans 9:4; Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:6), and which, with the addition of the epithet “reasonable,” is claimed for the Christian devotion to God in Christ (see Romans 12:1). Such “worship by the Spirit of God” St. Paul describes in detail in Romans 8, especially in Romans 8:26-27.

And rejoice (or rather, glory) in Christ Jesus.—Comp. Romans 15:17, “I have therefore whereof I may glory in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and the Old Testament quotation (from Jeremiah 9:23-24) twice applied to our Lord, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1Corinthians 1:31; 2Corinthians 10:17). In Galatians 6:14 we have a still more distinctive expression, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To glory in Christ is something more than even to believe and to trust in Him; it expresses a deep sense of privilege, both in present thankfulness and in future hope.

In the flesh.—The phrase is used here, as not unfrequently, for the present and visible world, to which we are linked by our flesh (see John 8:15, “to judge after the flesh;” 2Corinthians 5:16, “to know Christ after the flesh,” &c.) We have an equivalent phrase in an earlier passage, which is throughout parallel to this (2Corinthians 11:18), “Many glory after the flesh.” The particular form of expression is probably suggested by the constant reference to the circumcision, which is literally “in the flesh.”

Php 3:3. For we are the circumcision — The true spiritual seed of Abraham; who have the things signified by that sign, and perform that which circumcision was designed to engage men to. We are the only people now in covenant with God, who worship God in the Spirit — Not barely in the letter, or by a mere external service, in attending outward ordinances, but with the spiritual worship of reverence and fear, humility and self-abasement, adoration and praise, confidence and hope, gratitude and love, subjection and obedience; of true repentance, living faith, and genuine holiness; feeling within ourselves, and manifesting to others, those dispositions and actions which are suited to the divine perfections, and to the relations in which he is pleased to stand to us; and all this through the influence of his Spirit, which can only implant these dispositions within us, and enable us to conduct ourselves accordingly. See this spiritual worship further explained in the note on John 4:23-24; and rejoice — Or, glory, rather, as καυχωμενοι signifies; in Christ Jesus — As the procuring cause of all our blessings, and the source of all our consolations; and have no confidence in the flesh — In any outward advantage or prerogative, or in any performance of our own, past, present, or to come, for acceptance with God, or justification before him.

3:1-11 Sincere Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus. The prophet calls the false prophets dumb dogs, Isa 56:10; to which the apostle seems to refer. Dogs, for their malice against faithful professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting them. They urged human works in opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil-workers. He calls them the concision; as they rent the church of Christ, and cut it to pieces. The work of religion is to no purpose, unless the heart is in it, and we must worship God in the strength and grace of the Divine Spirit. They rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in mere outward enjoyments and performances. Nor can we too earnestly guard against those who oppose or abuse the doctrine of free salvation. If the apostle would have gloried and trusted in the flesh, he had as much cause as any man. But the things which he counted gain while a Pharisee, and had reckoned up, those he counted loss for Christ. The apostle did not persuade them to do any thing but what he himself did; or to venture on any thing but that on which he himself ventured his never-dying soul. He deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the knowledge of Christ, by faith in his person and salvation. He speaks of all worldly enjoyments and outward privileges which sought a place with Christ in his heart, or could pretend to any merit and desert, and counted them but loss; but it might be said, It is easy to say so; but what would he do when he came to the trial? He had suffered the loss of all for the privileges of a Christian. Nay, he not only counted them loss, but the vilest refuse, offals thrown to dogs; not only less valuable than Christ, but in the highest degree contemptible, when set up as against him. True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men, their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his word. Let us see what the apostle resolved to cleave to, and that was Christ and heaven. We are undone, without righteousness wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty. There is a righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a complete and perfect righteousness. None can have benefit by it, who trust in themselves. Faith is the appointed means of applying the saving benefit. It is by faith in Christ's blood. We are made conformable to Christ's death, when we die to sin, as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by the cross of Christ. The apostle was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties in his work. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ.For we are the circumcision - We who are Christians. We have and hold the true doctrine of circumcision. We have that which was intended to be secured by this rite - for we are led to renounce the flesh, and to worship God in the spirit. The apostle in this verse teaches that the ordinance of circumcision was not designed to be a mere outward ceremony, but was intended to be emblematic of the renunciation of the flesh with its corrupt propensities, and to lead to the pure and spiritual worship of God. In this, he has undoubtedly stated its true design. They who now urged it as necessary to salvation, and who made salvation depend on its mere outward observance, had lost sight of this object of the rite. But this, the real design of circumcision, was attained by those who had been led to renounce the flesh, and who had devoted themselves to the worship of God; see the notes at Romans 2:28-29.

Which worship God in the spirit - See the notes at John 4:24; compare Genesis 17:10-14.

And rejoice in Christ Jesus - See Philippians 3:1. That is, we have, through him, renounced the flesh; we have become the true worshippers of God, and have thus attained what was originally contemplated by circumcision, and by all the other rites of religion.

And have no confidence in the flesh - In our own corrupt nature; or in any ordinances that relate merely to the flesh. We do not depend on circumcision for salvation, or on any external rites and forms whatever - on any advantage of rank, or blood. The word "flesh" here seems to refer to every advantage which any may have of birth; to any external conformity to the law, and to everything which unaided human nature can do to effect salvation. Or none of these things can we put reliance for salvation; none of them will constitute a ground of hope.

3. "We are the (real) circumcision" (Ro 2:25-29; Col 2:11).

worship God in the Spirit—The oldest manuscripts read, "worship by the Spirit of God"; our religious service is rendered by the Spirit (Joh 4:23, 24). Legal worship was outward, and consisted in outward acts, restricted to certain times and places. Christian worship is spiritual, flowing from the inworkings of the Holy Spirit, not relating to certain isolated acts, but embracing the whole life (Ro 12:1). In the former, men trusted in something human, whether descent from the theocratic nation, or the righteousness of the law, or mortification of "the flesh" ("Having confidence," or "glorying in the flesh") [Neander] (Ro 1:9).

rejoice in Christ Jesus—"make our boast in Christ Jesus," not in the law: the ground of their boasting.

have no confidence in the flesh—but in the Spirit.

In opposition to and confutation of the concision, he speaks of himself, and all true believers in the fellowship of the gospel, partakers of the same grace and Spirit with him, Philippians 1:5,7 Php 2:1; and saith, we.

Are the circumcision; using a metonymy, are the circumcision now acceptable, and not displeasing to God, i.e. we are what is really signified by it, and therefore as to the main intent of it are the circumcised (it being usual to put circumcision for circumcised, Acts 11:2 Romans 3:30 4:12 15:8 Galatians 2:7,8,9,12 Col 4:11 Titus 1:10): he doth not mean with respect to carnal circumcision, i.e. which is outward in the flesh, but which is inward in the Spirit, Romans 2:28,29, made without hands by the circumcision of Christ, with whom we are buried in baptism, Colossians 2:11,12; and being Christ’s are Abraham’s spiritual seed, and heirs of the promise, Galatians 3:29.

Which worship God in the spirit; i.e. who have cut off all carnal confidence of salvation in any external services, (which they of the concision contend for), and do worship God, not with carnal, but spiritual worship, such as now under the gospel he doth require, John 4:23,24 Ro 1:9; from a renewed heart; {John 3:8 1 Peter 3:15} yielding peculiar adoration to the Lord our God, with a sincere mind, and by the assistance of his Spirit in the exercise of faith and love, Romans 8:5,6,26,27 Eph 3:16,17 6:18 Hebrews 10:22; according to the same rule he hath prescribed, Philippians 3:16, with Romans 12:1,2 Ga 6:16, in and through Christ, Hebrews 13:15.

And rejoice in Christ Jesus; in whom alone (not in Moses also, as false teachers would join them) glorying we trust for acceptance with God, 2 Corinthians 5:9 Galatians 6:14; in communion with whom is ground of rejoicing through Christ, who is the substance or body of Mosaic shadows, Philippians 3:9.

And have no confidence in the flesh; and not rest, or trust, or place our hope in any carnal or external privilege or performance, or any other besides Jesus Christ, to commend us to God, Galatians 3:2,11-13.

For we are the circumcision,.... And not they; they have the name, and we the thing, or that which legal circumcision was a shadow of, namely, circumcision of the heart; which lies in being pricked to the heart under a true sense of sin; in having the hardness of the heart removed, and the iniquity of it laid to open view; in pain and contrition of heart about it, joined with shame for it, and loathing of it, the consequence of which is, a putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, Colossians 2:11, according to the former conversation; and also in a renouncing a man's own righteousness in point of justification before God, and acceptance with him. All which is the work of God, and not man, and is therefore called the circumcision made without hands, Colossians 2:11; it has God, and not man, for its author; and its praise is of God, and not of men; and its seat is in the heart and spirit, and not in the flesh; and such whose hearts are circumcised to love the Lord their God, and fear him, are the true circumcision:

which worship God in the spirit. The object of worship is "God", and him only; not a creature animate or inanimate, stocks or stones, beasts, birds, men, or angels; only God, Father, Son, and Spirit: that the Father is to be worshipped, is not disputed, see John 4:21; and the Son is to be worshipped with the same worship the Father is; since he is in the form of God, and equal to him, is the Creator of all the Lord of angels and men, and is to be, and is worshipped by both; prayer is made unto him, baptism is administered in his name, and trust and confidence are placed in him; and so is the Holy Ghost, he being equally God with the Father and the Son, and therefore the same homage is to be given to him as to them: and so some indeed read the words here, "which worship God the Spirit"; or the Spirit, who is God. "Worship" is either inward or outward; inward worship lies in the exercise of grace on God, as of faith, hope, love, fear, &c. outward worship is the performance of certain external actions required by God, and both are to be performed: and it is also either private or public; private worship is in the closet, or in the family, and consists of praying, singing of praises, &c. public worship lies in tire observance of the outward ordinances of preaching, praying, hearing singing, &c. in the church of God; even all such ordinances as God has appointed, which are recorded in the Scriptures, and are confirmed by the authority of Christ. The manner in which worship is to be performed, is "in the Spirit"; either in and with the Spirit of God, without whose grace and assistance no part of it can be performed well. And the Alexandrian copy reads, "which worship in the Spirit of God"; and so the Complutensian edition, and several copies. Or in and with our own hearts and spirits, which should be engaged in every part of religious worship with much attention, diligence, and fervency; or in a spiritual manner, in opposition to the carnal worship of the Jews, and the bodily exercise of formal professors; and which lies in drawing nigh to God with true hearts, sincere and fervent ones, with grace in them, and that in exercise:

and rejoice in Christ Jesus; or "glory in" him, and make their boast of him; for a different word is here used from that in Philippians 3:1. Such who have a true sense of themselves, and a spiritual sight of Christ, will not glory in themselves, in their wisdom, strength, riches, or righteousness, but in Christ, in his wisdom and strength, in his riches and righteousness, and in his person and grace only:

and have no confidence in the flesh; in any carnal descent, or birth privilege, as to be of the seed of Abraham, of the of Israel, or of such a tribe, or family, or born of such a parent; nor in circumcision, or any of the carnal ordinances of the ceremonial law; nor in any civil, moral, legal, and external righteousness, for so to do is but to make flesh an arm; or indeed to trust in anything out of Christ, or short of him; and all this makes up the character and description of a true believer in Christ.

{3} For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence {c} in the flesh.

(3) He shows that we ought to use true circumcision, that is, the circumcision of the heart, so that by cutting off all wicked affections by the power of Christ, we may serve God in purity of life.

(c) In outward things which do not at all pertain to the soul.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Php 3:3. Justification of the preceding τ. κατατομήν; not, however, “an evident copy” of 2 Corinthians 11:18 f. (Baur), but very different from the latter passage amidst the corresponding resemblances which the similarity of subject suggested; in both cases there is Pauline originality.

ἡμεῖς] with emphasis: we, not they. The κατατομή being not the unconverted Jews, but Christian Judaizers, the contrasted ἡμεῖς cannot mean the Christians generally (Weiss), but only those who, in the apostle’s sense, were true and right Christians, whose more definite characterization-immediately follows. The ἡμεῖς are the Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ Θεοῦ of Galatians 6:15 f., the members of the people of God in the sense of the Pauline gospel, and not merely Paul and the true teachers of the gospel (Hofmann),—a restriction which the exclusiveness of the predicate, especially furnished as it is with the article, does not befit; in Php 3:17 the context stands otherwise.

ἡ περιτομή] If this predicate belongs to us, not to those men, then, in regard to the point of circumcision, nothing remains for the latter but the predicate κατατομή! As the ἡμεῖς, among whom the readers also were included, were for the most part uncircumcised (Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:3; Ephesians 2:11), it is clear that Paul here takes περιτομή purely in the antitypical spiritual sense, according to which the circumcised are those who, since the reception of baptism, are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and therefore members of the true people of God; the investiture with their new moral condition is typically prefigured by the legal bodily περιτομή of the Jewish theocracy. Comp. Romans 2:29; Romans 4:10 f.; Ephesians 2:11; Colossians 2:11; Acts 7:51. Whether the bodily circumcision was present or not, and whether, therefore, the subjects were Jewish or Gentile Christians, was in that case matter of indifference, 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 3:28; Galatians 5:6. Comp. the further amplification of the thought in Barnab. Ep. 9.

οἱ πνεύματι Θεοῦ κ.τ.λ.] We who serve through the Spirit of God, in contrast to the external, legal λατρεία, (Romans 9:4).[151] Comp. Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:14; Romans 12:1 f. With this λατρεία, wrought by the Holy Spirit,[152] there takes place on the part of man (comp. Romans 1:9), but in virtue of that very working of the Holy Spirit, the worship which is required in John 4:24. The article οἱ extends also to the two participles which follow; and the arthrous participles (quippe qui colimus, etc.) contain the experimental proof that the ἡμεῖς are the ΠΕΡΙΤΟΜΉ. The dative ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ denotes neither the standard (van Hengel) nor the object (Hilgenfeld), which latter view would amount to the conception, foreign to the N. T., of a worship of the Holy Spirit—but is instrumental, expressing the inward agent (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:14 f., et al.). vi spiritus divini (Romans 8:13, et al.). On the absolute λατρεύειν, to render divine worship, comp. Luke 2:37; Acts 26:7; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2; Romans 9:4; Romans 3 Esdr. 4:54.

καυχώμ. ἐν Χ. .] and who glory in Christ Jesus (as Him through whom alone we have attained righteousness, etc., see Php 3:9; comp. Galatians 6:14), not in our own privileges and legal performances, as those false teachers do, who place their confidence in what is fleshly, i.e. in that which belongs to material human nature and has nothing in common with the divine blessings of the Christian (such as circumcision, descent, outward observance of the law, comp. Php 3:4-6). Hence the contrast: καὶ οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ πεποιθότες, with which the disposition of mind contrary to the καυχᾶσθαι ἐν Χ. . (from which disposition the ΚΑΥΧᾶΣΘΑΙ, opposed to that Christian ΚΑΥΧᾶΣΘΑΙ, of itself results) is negatived; so that this contrast is pregnant, belonging, however, by way of antithesis, to the second statement, and not containing a separate third one (Hofmann). if κ. οὐκ ἐν σ. πεπ. were merely a more precise definition of purport added to καυχ. ἐν Χ. . (Weiss), it must have been added without ΚΑΊ. As to ΟὐΚ in the passage, referring to concrete persons and a definite fact, and negativing not merely the ἘΝ ΣΑΡΚΊ (Hofmann), but the actual position ἘΝ Σ. ΠΕΠΟΙΘ., see Winer, p. 451 f. [E. T. 609]; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 276 f.

[151] True Christianity is, according to Paul also, the true continuation of Judaism, and that not merely of the promise given in it, but also of the law; the latter, however, according to the idea of the πλήρωσις, Matthew 5:17, in which the letter has yielded to the spirit.

[152] If we adopt the reading πνεύματι Θεῷ, πνεύματι must be understood as in Romans 1:9. See Reiche, Comment, crit. p. 229 ff.

Php 3:3. ἡμεῖς. The contrast drawn, which has already been before his mind in the ironical expression κατατομή.—ἡ περιτ. In LXX it is only found in Genesis 17:12, Exodus 4:25 (Jeremiah 11:16 has another sense). The verb περιτέμνω is very common. Perhaps the choice of this particular compound to denote the rite of circumcision is due, as Dsm[26]. (BS[27]., p. 151) suggests, to the Egyptian use of it as a technical term for the same custom, long in vogue among the Egyptians. Examples are found in the Papyri. Paul uses it here in its strict sense as a token of participation in the covenant with God and of obligation to maintain it. But the further idea belonged to it of being the outward symbol of an inward grace. Cf. Deuteronomy 30:6. As the rite was regarded essentially as one of purification, the grace associated with it was a cleansing process. This explains expressions like that in Jeremiah 9:26, etc.—οἱλατρεύοντες. The participle has become a noun denoting a class of men, spiritual worshippers. Contrast Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 13:10, and cf. Hebrews 9:14. Most edd. with a number of high authorities read Θεοῦ (see crit. note supr.). This gives a peculiar combination: “who worship by the Spirit of God”. But the occurrence of σαρκί immediately after clearly suggests the favourite Pauline antithesis of πνεῦμα and σάρξ. In that case Θεῷ, which is supported by some excellent evidence, would be the natural reading, governed by λατρεύοντες. Aptly parallel is Romans 1:9, ὁ Θεὸς ᾧ λατρεύω ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου. Certainly Θεοῦ, as the more difficult reading, must be considered. But as λατρεύω had come to have the technical sense of worshipping God, the word might be altered at an early date to get rid of a superfluity.—λατρ. In LXX it is used exclusively of the service of God, true or false. But it is distinguished from its synonym λειτουργεῖν as including the worship of the people as well as the ritual of the priests and Levites. See esp[28]. SH[29]. on Romans 1:9.—καυχώμενοι. One of the Apostle’s most characteristic words. It expresses with great vividness the high level of Christian life at which he is living: “exulting in Christ Jesus”. It belongs to the same triumphant mood which finds utterance so often in this Epistle in χαίρω. This victorious Christian gladness ought to sweep them past all earthly formalism and bondage to “beggarly elements”.—οὐκ ἐν ς. πεποιθ. οὐκ (instead of μή) emphasises the actual condition of their own Christian life.—ἐν σαρκί. On the phrase see Dsm[30]., N.T. Formelin Christo,” p. 125, who regards it as following the analogy of the Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ. This is manifestly so in our instance where the expressions stand in juxtaposition. Carnem appellat quicquid est extra Christum (Calvin). Here σάρξ has a double antithesis, both Χ. . and πνεύματι. The ordinary use of “self” in the popular religious vocabulary corresponds with wonderful accuracy to the Pauline σάρξ (so also Moule). For a strangely kindred conception cf. Seneca, ad Marc., 24, 5: illi (animo) cum hac carne grave certamen est (quoted by Hltzm[31]., N.T. Th., ii., p. 21). Of course σάρξ has become a technical term in Paul’s controversy with the Judaisers, and that particular side of its meaning must always be kept in view (see Romans and Galatians passim).—πεποιθ. The word occurs no less than six times in this short Epistle. Paul has reached firm convictions on the highest things. He knows what he believes and what he rejects. That is the real explanation of his strong, exultant joy.

[26] Deissmann (BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien).

[27] . Bibelstudien

[28] especially.

[29] . Sanday and Headlam (Romans).

[30] Deissmann (BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien).

[31] tzm. Holtzmann.

3. we are the circumcision] See the previous note. For the thought, cp. especially Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19; Colossians 2:11.

which worship God in the spirit] R.V., who worship by the Spirit of God. This is based on the better-supported reading of the Greek, and should be adopted. The word “worship” is thus used without an expressed object, as Luke 2:37; Acts 26:7; (in both which places, in A.V., the word “God” is in italics). The verb here (latreuein) originally imports any sort of service, domestic or otherwise; but usage gives it in the N.T. a fixed connexion with the service of worship, and occasionally (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 13:10) a special reference to the worship of priestly ritual. Very probably this last usage is in view here. The Judaist claimed to be the champion of the true ritual of worship, as well as of the true initiation into covenant. The Apostle replies that the spiritual Christian is as such the ideal worshipper, the priest of the true rite.

“By the Spirit of God”:—cp. for the phrase in St Paul, Romans 8:9; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 7:40; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 3:3. The effect of the whole work of the Blessed Spirit in the regenerate Christian was to bring him into right relations of worship with God who “is Spirit” (John 4:24); to make him a “worshipper in (the) Spirit and in truth.”

and rejoice in Christ Jesus] R.V., and glory &c. Better so, for the Greek is not identical with that in Php 1:18, Php 2:17-18; Php 2:28, Php 3:1, Php 4:4; Php 4:10. It means a joy emphatically triumphant; such as would find its parody in a proud and eager boastfulness (as e.g. Romans 2:23; Romans 3:27; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:12 &c.; Galatians 6:13; James 4:16).

What national and ritual privilege was, in his own distorted estimate, to the Judaist, that the true Messiah, the Incarnate Son of God, Christ Jesus, was to the spiritual Christian—at once pedestal and crown, righteousness and life and glory.

For the thought cp. Romans 5:11; 1 Corinthians 1:31 (observe previous context); Galatians 6:14.

have no confidence in the flesh] Quite lit., “not in the flesh are confident”; with the implication that we are confident, on another and a truer ground.

“The flesh”:—a most important word in the distinctive teaching of St Paul. A fair popular equivalent for it would be “self,” as far as that word expresses that attitude or condition of our moral being which is not subject to God’s law or reliant on His grace. The “flesh” is sometimes that state, or element, of man in which sin predominates; whatever in man is not ruled and possessed by the Holy Spirit; the unsanctified intellect, the unsanctified affections. The “flesh” is sometimes, again, as here, anything other than God taken by man as his trust and strength, e.g. religious observances regarded as occasion for self-confidence. In this latter case the word “flesh” is, as here, shifted, so to speak, by a natural transition of language, from the chooser to the thing chosen.

See further on this word Romans 8:4; Ephesians 2:3; and notes in this Series. See also Dickson, On St Paul’s Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit (the Bain Lecture, 1883).

This short verse gives us one of the deepest and most inclusive descriptions of the true Christian to be found in Scripture.

Php 3:3. Γὰρ, for) This gives the reason why in Php 3:2 he separates and banishes the others to such a distance, [and also why he calls the external circumcision of the flesh only concision.—V.g.]—ἡ περιτομὴ, the circumcision) The abstract for the concrete; the true people.—πνεύματι, in the spirit) not in the letter, Romans 2:29.—πνεύματι Θεῷ λατρεύοντες, serving God in the spirit) So Romans 1:9.[33]—καυχώμενοι, glorying, rejoicing) This is more than πεποιθότες, trusting, having confidence.

[33] Οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ, not in the flesh) in carnal circumcision and origin (stock), ver. 5.—V. g.

Verse 3. - For we are the circumcision. We: the apostle of the Gentiles identifies himself with the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 9:2l); himself circumcised, he recognizes the great truth that they only are the true circumcision whose hearts are mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts. Which worship God in the spirit; read, with the best manuscripts, which worship by the Spirit of God. The word λατρεία, worship, is used specially of the Jewish ceremonial service (comp. Romans 9:4; Luke 2:37; Acts 26:7). We Christians, St. Paul means, have not only the true circumcision, but the only true worship: the temple service prefigured the spiritual worship of the Christian Church. By the Spirit; by his assistance, inspiration: "We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:26). And rejoice in Christ Jesus; rather, glory καυχώμενοι). "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord," through whom alone we can obtain salvation, not in any external privileges. And have no confidence in the flesh. Neither in circumcision nor in any other outward rites. Philippians 3:3The circumcision

The abstract term for those who are circumcised. In the Old Testament, circumcision was a metaphor for purity. See Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 44:7, etc.

Worship God in the spirit (πνεύματι Θεῷ λατρεύοντες)

The correct reading is θεοῦ of God. Render, as Rev., worship by the Spirit of God. Worship. See on Revelation 22:3. Paul uses the Jews' word which denoted their own service of Jehovah as His peculiar people. Compare Acts 26:7. A Jew would be scandalized by the application of this term to Christian worship.

Rejoice in Christ Jesus (καυχώμενοι)

Rev., better, glory. Compare Jeremiah 9:23, Jeremiah 9:24, and 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17.

In the flesh

External privileges of every kind.

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