Lesson 11

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not tiresome, but for you it is safe. 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision. 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh; 3:4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.

Today's Lesson 

In this section of the letter, Paul warns the Philippians against the Judiazers. The Judiazers were a group that developed within the early church. The Judiazers believed that a Gentile could not become a Christian without first becoming a Jew. They taught that before a conversion was complete, males must undergo circumcision and the whole Law of Moses must be assumed. It is against this group that Paul wrote the Letter to the Galatians. These people went behind Paul in many of his travels attempting to convert new Christians to their own way of thinking.


Paul calls this group "dogs," "evil workers" and "the false circumcision." These men were attempting to undo all that Paul had sought to achieve. Paul taught the Gentiles that God had reconciled Himself to the world in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ had fulfilled the Law through His life and in His death. Through faith, Gentiles were free to come directly to God because all of the obligations of the Law had already been met.


In fact, Paul turns to the topic of Judaism. He tells this congregation of Gentile believers that Jewish believers in Jesus Christ know that they have no reason for confidence in their Judaism. Only faith in Jesus Christ can save. To put faith and trust in being a Jew is to not understand the message of Christ and His gospel. Only faith in Jesus Christ can make any ultimate difference in a human life.


Paul tells them that if anyone could have had confidence in being Jewish it was Paul. Paul was a "Hebrew of Hebrews." He had been raised in the strictest traditions of Judaism. He had been born and raised in the right way. Paul had been a Pharisee and had been zealous to defend the Law. Paul had been so zealous to defend the Law and Judaism that he had even begun to persecute the early church because he saw the church as a perversion of Judaism.


People today have similar things that they place their trust in. For some people it may be their wealth, for others it may be their own intelligence or sophistication. Still others may place their faith and trust in their positions in their churches. They may feel as though they had grown up in a Christian church all their lives and they may take great faith in this fact. But, there is nothing in which we should be confident other than our relationship in Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can we confidently approach the Father trusting completely that we are accepted into the family of God. Only in Christ are we re-united with our Creator.


What do you place your faith and trust in?


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