THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS
"Beware of the Judaizers"
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
The Goal of Life
3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
Rejoice in the Lord
After many studies with Paul we realize that when Paul says, "Finally," he means that we have come to the end of a series of thoughts that follow a thread, not necessarily the end of his letter. Paul, being a very logical fellow, often connects his thoughts with "and, but, since, if then, so as, that, more than that, on the one hand, because, so then, for this reason, therefore, and finally," as he works his way along multi-paragraph explanations and discussions. It is important to note these transitions in thought when doing your studies for they connect the important segments of Paul's thoughts.
Paul calls us to "rejoice in the Lord" as the first part, or introduction, to this last piece of this chain of thought. The previous paragraphs and connections, have led us through the Holy Spirit's revelation that personal humiliation and suffering are essential ingredients to the making of a mature Christian. The process of "being conformed to the image of Christ" requires that some of us may need to suffer and possibly die, not just for our Faith, but for our maturity in-Christ as well. So, as we are called to walk our various paths, heading for our "finish line," we need to remember that no matter what our calling, we need to rejoice in the Lord. He alone is our goal and our hope!
To Write the Same Things Again
Much of my schooling experience taught me that educators hate to repeat their information for those who are slow. There's a certain lack of humility in that. We've been studying Paul's approach to the Philippians (as well as the Romans and the Ephesians in the recent past) and he always finds it no burden to return to earlier teachings and teach them again. He says that, "It is no trouble for me." We see Paul's willingness to put others ahead of him. Paul says that in the long run, "it is a safeguard for you." His meaning is that the benefit they receive by hearing the Word of the Lord again in their ears (when it is finally heard and acted upon) will indeed safeguard them in the battle between the knowledge of the Lord verses the knowledge of the "world, flesh, or the devil."
[Note on Metaphors, Types and Anti-Types]
|ANTI-TYPE (Real)(that which comes before the "type")||TYPE (Metaphor)|
|A Person||A Drawing of a Person|
|Jesus Christ||Moses, Abraham, David|
|Men of impure minds||"Dogs" (idiomatic expression)|
|Obedience/Faith in God Alone||"Circumcised Heart"|
|"Circumcised Heart"||Circumcised male Jew|
Over the next few verses these terms and ideas will be repeated over and over. The reason is that some of the concepts of the later verses need to be introduced earlier in order to more fully understand the earlier verses.
Everything in our world is known to us through our brains via our senses. Everything we see is just a reflection of light off of something that really exists. We don't actually "see" the thing. Instead, we see light that is reflected off of it, and our brains interpret those reflections as "things."
Everything we hear is just a wave of energy. When we hear a violin playing we only hear the vibrations of energy produced by the violin. So it is with all our senses. This is not to say that our world is unknowable, only that this is the method by which we know it.
This means that there are real things... but we know them only through our senses which transmit the meaning of "real" to our brain where it is understood.
When we see a tree, we perceive a picture of that tree. When we tell someone else about that tree we communicate ideas that trigger pictures in that other person's mind. You say "The tree," they see a tree. You say, "An Oak tree," they see an Oak tree. You say, "The Oak tree in my front yard," if they've seen the oak tree in your front yard, perhaps they can picture it, if not they see a picture of an Oak tree in a front yard, and so on with all things. The word for this process is "Metaphor."
We probably learned that word in high-school. We learned it, probably, as it has to do with language that is symbolic, like poetry where words produce complex images in our minds. However, all ideas and the expression of those ideas are Metaphor.
A Type is a metaphor that has a special meaning - one specific thing representing another and is understood that the Type comes from the specific thing. Example: Printing in a book comes from physical letters, which have been inked, pressed against paper. The TYPE on the page comes from the physical letters.
An Anti-Type is a metaphor that represents the THING that makes the TYPE. In the case of the book printing, the ANTI-TYPE is the physical letters, and the TYPE is the printed letters.
In figurative, or symbolic language such as the Bible, we see pictures of truths. Example: Abraham and His willing obedience to God as a TYPE of Jesus Christ and His willing obedience to God (Jesus Christ then is the ANTI-TYPE) (refer to chart above).
3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the "ones who are cut out."
Probably your translation or version says "beware of the false circumcision." More in a moment...
Beware - dogs
The Phrase "Beware of the dogs" (dogs, figuratively: men of impure minds) is figurative and relates to the problem of those who, through their teachings attempt to place the Christian back under the Law and works of Judaism (vs. 3). They have impure motives. Paul felt that these men, "dogs," should be seen, like dogs, as impure and immoral in their desires upon the Church, acting like puppies but ready and willing to jump up on the table and steel what is most precious. Cute little doggies that snarl and bite.
Beware - evil workers
He also makes reference to the phrase "Beware of the evil workers." Augustus Strong suggests that the word for workers is most often "agricultural workers who work for hire." If Paul had this in mind then these men were working amongst the brethren in an effort to "grow, and harvest" "fruit of their own" from the field of the new church. I've been in churches that suffer from "missionaries" from other churches, of differing doctrines, who come to worship and teach in an effort to dissuade believers of their faith in order to snatch them for their own.
Throughout Paul's writings he refers to these kinds of teachers as "Judaizers." They were men and women who tried to proselytize believers back to Judaism, they were those who remove grace from the new "church" concept and place Christianity back under the Laws and works of Judaism, cutting off the strength and power of the work of God in the assembly and in the individual.
Beware - those who have been cut off
(cf. Genesis 17:4)
Paul's third characterization of these men was that they had been "cut off." The word translated "false circumcision" is kata-tomae, to "cut off," ().
But it is important to know that the word "circumcision" does not appear in this text. The Greek word that was translated here as "false circumcision" is kata-tomae, to "cut off," (), and the Greek word that was translated as "true circumcision" (see next verse) is a peri-tomae, "cut around," (). So the words of vs. 2 would be something like:
vs. 2-3 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who have been cut off for we are those who have been cut around, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
Many translators and commentators have taken the words that are here and seen them as having to do with circumcision - physically of the male Jew. This was the "sign" of the human members of the Abrahamic covenant (the Jew and their proselytes. This interpretation would not follow the teaching here in the text, unless we were going to say that old Judaism was now dead and the Body of Christ was the new Judaism and therefore the sign of this new body was circumcision of the flesh. Even the most radical of the new "Replacement Theology" groups (Replacement Theology believes that the Church replaces Israel, and is the new Israel, and that all of prophecy that speaks of Israel speaks of us instead) would not believe that.
Please know it for certain - the
Normal, Literal, Historical interpretation of the Bible does not lead you to
Replacement Theology. There is a real Israel, and there is a real Church, the
very body of Christ, and they are in no way the same.
That covenant (Abrahamic) was based upon Abraham's heart of faith (expressed as obedience), which God counted as righteousness. God asked physical circumcision as a remembrance of "Who they were" in faith before God, those whose hearts were "cut around" and separated unto God.
The basis of Hebrew physical circumcision was Abraham's spiritually circumcised heart - literally Abraham's heart, cut out, and set aside for God (Genesis 15:1-6; 22:12).
We should see that Paul was saying these false teachers were not men with a circumcised heart, even though they were physically circumcised. They were men with hearts that were cut out (no heart for God), and that they were members of a kind of faith (Judaism) that God had cut off, because they did not have Faith in Jesus Christ. In fact the entire Jewish nation had been cut off from God's family as a result of the continued unbelief of Israel's leaders and calling the acts of Jesus Himself as being produced by the devil.
Our Lord Jesus was “BORN KING of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) and came into the human family with the throne rights of His father David (Luke 1:32-33). His herald and forerunner, John, announced the imminence of the setting up of that kingdom (promised to Israel in numerous Old Testament prophecies) and conditioned it only upon the repentance of a covenant people who had drifted far from God (Matthew 3:1-2). Our Lord Jesus took up this message when John was cast into prison (4:12, 17) and later selected apostles to go over all Israel bearing that message (to Israelites ONLY, 10:5-7). Our Lord announced the principles upon which He would rule when that kingdom is established (The Manifesto of the Kingdom, (5-7). Both John and He warned Israel of the judgment that would follow if repentance was not forthcoming (3:9-10, 12; 10:13-15).
Thus the long-promised Messianic kingdom was offered Israel, but the growing opposition (9:34) of Israel’s religious leaders led them to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (12:24), which moral rejection of our Lord recognized and responded to with solemn warnings of judgment (12:31-45; 11:20-24). Our Lord anticipated the nation’s formal rejection of Him which would lead to the cross (16:21; 27:22, 25), and prophesied a form of the kingdom of heaven (called “the Mysteries of the Kingdom”) which would run its course between the time of His rejection and that of His coming again (13:11, 16-17, 34-35).
(Clarence B. Mason, Bible Notes, AncientPath.net, Philadelphia Biblical University, "Synopsis of the Gospel According to Matthew. 2012-01-25)
Paul uses these two terms as a play on words of
the two kinds of "men with something cut." In the first instance Paul is talking
about those, who because of a determined lack of faith (faith resulting
in righteousness) had their place before God cut off (because their
hearts were cut out).
In the second instance Paul is talking about those, who because of a determined quality of faith (Faith in Jesus Christ, Faith that does result in imputed righteousness) had their place before God eternally guaranteed.
Deuteronomy refers to the "circumcised heart" (Deuteronomy 30:6) as the anti-type (the pre-type, the real picture) and the "circumcised male" as the type (the figurative picture), a sign of the Abrahamic covenant.
"Moreover, the Lord you God will cut away (set it unto God) your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live."
(Deuteronomy 10:12-16; cp. Genesis 17:1)
I believe that Paul is speaking of the ultimate picture of circumcision, the circumcision of the Heart. The heart that is "cut around" and set apart to God.
3:3 for we are the true circumcision (of the heart), who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (expanded in 3:4),
Over against verse 2's use of kata-tomae, cut off, () is verse three where Paul uses the word peri-tomae () which literally means "to cut around," as the Mohel does in the rite of circumcision for the Hebrew.
By using these two words there is a strong statement about those who have no faith (a faith that does not produce righteousness) versus those who have a faith (a faith that does produce righteousness). It was those who have no faith based in the righteousness of God that Paul warns us about.
Notice that those who have a heart that is "cut around" are those who:
1. Worship in the Spirit of God
2. Glory in Christ Jesus and
3. Put no confidence in the flesh
Paul is saying that the ("dogs, evil workers") Judaizers (those who were cut off) did not, could not, worship in the Spirit of God. God had moved on from the Jews as being the testimony to the world. If they could not believe in Jesus as their Messiah (Savior) then they could not worship God via the Holy Spirit. They, as individuals, were not to be considered "a member of the family." But, those who believe (those who were now cut around) had the Spirit of God indwelling them and true worship, through the Holy Spirit of God was possible for them.
Those who were cut off, could not "Glory" in Christ Jesus. They did not believe in Him - how could they glory?
And the point that Paul is stressing in these verses is that there is absolutely no power for the Jew, or for anyone else, whose life is based upon self. Paul has been saying that as far as SELF is concerned in the world, he could boast the most. He was the epitome of self, before Jesus Christ came into his life. His SELF power came to have no value in approaching God.
Paul states clearly, "the believer is one who places no confidence in the things of the flesh, in order to attain approachableness to God."
And yet, because of the wicked ways of "those who know Him not" - trying to subvert the very elect of God - we are to be warned against their presence within the local body of Christ.
Paul's Qualifications in the Flesh
3:4 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: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
Paul lists his many qualifications for being a "fleshly" Hebrew. He was born in "Asia," in the town of Tarsus (now on the southern coast of Turkey). His parents were strict Pharisees and (he and) they were Roman Citizens. From this we can presume that Paul's family were people of influence and perhaps even of moderate wealth as citizenship outside of Italy was an honor reserved for people who made great contributions to the Empire.
Circumcised on the eighth day, a qualification of the Hebrew Law of the Covenant, he became an official citizen of the Hebrew nation. He was able to document his family lineage to the tribe of Benjamin (something many Hebrews could not do after the captivities) and thus he was able to demonstrate that he was a "Hebrew of Hebrews." At fourteen years of age he was sent to Jerusalem to train as a Rabbi and his teacher was the prominent Gamaliel. At that time he was also trained as a tent-maker (awnings, Nomad homes, ship sails, etc.). He grew up as a man of firm convictions and when confronted with what he took to be a heresy to Judaism, he worked with all his might to defeat it. The major perceived heresy was to become known as Christianity and Paul was among the foremost of its persecutors. Paul was present at the stoning of Stephen (probably took his coat from him for the stoning, the good supervisor who stands drinking his coffee while others do the work), and also went house-to-house dragging "believers" off to jail. There were none who could question his "faith" and his "righteousness" under the Law.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
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