Saturday, March 29, 2014


By James R. Gray

I came across an article on the internet on words that are contronyms—words that are their own antonyms. Being somewhat of a writer it drew by attention. It starts with these words:
Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, 'Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression' or does it mean, 'Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default'?” [1]

There are two antonyms in this sentence. Oversight, which can mean oversee which indicates supervision, or it can mean overlook, which is the opposite, indicating failing to see. Second is the word sanction, which can mean to give official permission or it can mean to impose a penalty. 

A word cannot mean two things at once. It must mean one or the other. By itself the sentence above could be taken either way. What is missing? It is context. Context will determine which meaning is correct. Context is vital to understanding correctly the written word. Rarely is a statement an island unto itself, that is, without a context. The correct understanding of a word or sentence is based not only on definition, but context as well. This is true of any written communication.

The Bible student must come to the Bible using the same concept. As an old professor has said: “The first three rules of Bible study are context, context, and context.”  Roy Zuck gives us three reasons why context is important:[2]
  1. Words, phrases, and sentences can have conflicting or multiple meanings, which context will aid in the correct meaning.
  2. Thoughts are expressed by a series of words or sentences, all of which are in relation with one another, not isolated from one another. That relationship is context. Context gives the intent and purpose of the writer.
  3. Misunderstanding often arises from ignoring or not knowing the context. By not knowing or ignoring the context makes a statement ambiguous leading to distorting or misunderstanding the correct meaning, or simply getting the meaning wrong.

Context are the words, phrases, sentences or passages that throw light on the meaning of a word or sentence by the interrelation which exists or occurs by what surrounds the sentence or word. For the bible expositor it includes what is immediately before and after a passage, the dispensation in which is written, the message of the entire book, and the historical-cultural environment. Context is vital to correct understanding. To withdraw or isolate a statement from its context leads to misunderstanding, confusion, and even reverses the intended meaning. All of this must be considered by the Bible student.

[1] Judith B. Herman, “14 Words That Are Their Own Opposites,”
[2] Roy B. Zuck, BASIC BIBLE INTERPRETATION, (Victor Books, Wheaton IL), 106-107.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Study of Philippians 3:7-8

4. Paul’s Present Values—Phil. 3:7-11

Now Paul draws a basic conclusion, what were seemingly advantages are in reality liabilities. He declares in Romans 8:3-4: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that, the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Because of what the Law could not do, God did in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Paul concludes: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Again we find the conjunction of contrast (but; alla). Paul now contrasts his past values with his present one. Those things refer to the seven points of Paul’s past that he took pride in (Phil. 3:5-6). They produced legalistic pride but little else. He realized it was what God did; not what he [Paul] did that truly counted. Thus, Paul expresses his total reorientation of his life two ways:
  • His new evaluation of his life. He does so “employing accounting terminology and antithetic parallelism.[1] He accentuates the reevaluation by the parallel phrases:
But whatever things were gain to me”
“those things I have counted for loss
The parallelism is obvious: “whatever things” is matched by “those things” both of which refers back to the things listed by Paul. Of which, he contrasts by three accounting terms: gain, accounted and loss. What he thought was gain, is now loss. There is a significant change of outlook and value. In this light, it should be pointed out a tendency in modern scholarship to downplay the element of conversion by Paul at the Damascus road and instead emphasize it as a new calling. On this Silva correctly notes:
It is true of course that Paul understood his experience as a divine calling; and it is also true that he did not view his new commitment as an abandonment of the God of Israel. But Phil. 3:7-8 leaves no doubt that Paul’s submission to Christ constituted a conversion in its deepest sense.”[2]
Paul makes clear that the things of the past brought spiritual bankruptcy. They were worth nothing.
  • The reason for the new evaluation is “for the sake of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:7). It has been pointed out that the three uses of for (dia) in verses 7-8 indicate “the reason for which he has counted his former benefits as nothing.”[3]

Paul goes on to expand these thoughts to reinforce what he just wrote: “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 4:8). The following should be observed about this verse:
  • The word loss in these verses is the Greek word zemian. It is the same word used of the shipwreck in Acts 27:10, 21, 28, 41. The ship and cargo were lost. The cargo was thrown overboard, and the ship broke up. There is an element of damage inherent in the word. Nothing survived of the cargo and the ship. This is the idea of the term loss here. Gromacki observes: “At his conversion, Paul not only counted his religious gains to be loss, but he also ‘suffered the loss of all things.’ The verb tense (ezemiothen) looks back to a definite time in his past.”[4] It enhances the idea of damage.
  • Notice the progressiveness of the loss. It goes from loss (zemia), to suffer the loss, or damage (zemioo), to rubbish, or dung (skybala). What Paul had regarded as “assets” were in reality “liabilities.”[5]
  • The reason (dia) it was loss is “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). The gain outweighed the loss. Notice also the positive progress in relation to Christ. He moves from the “sake of Christ Jesus” (v7) to the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The word translated surpassing value is the Greek word huperecho, a compound word, huper, over, echo to have; thus to have over.[6] It has the meaning of to hold above, to stand out above, to be over top, to surpass, excel or superior.[7] It is used three times in Philippians (2:3, 3:8, 4:7), but interestingly translated somewhat differently each time (KJV—better; excellence; passeth: NASV—more important; surpassing value; surpasses: NKJV—better; excellence; surpasses). I point this out to show the range of the meaning of this word. However, its main idea is that of superiority. What is of greater value? “Knowing Christ.” Homer Kent reminds us that, “the knowledge of Christ Jesus as his Lord meant the intimate communion with Christ that began at his conversion and had been his experience all the years since then.”[8] This knowledge comes from personal knowledge and relationship with Christ. Jesus prayed that his disciples “might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Knowing Christ is superior and surpasses all other gains. It shows those other things as loss. There is a “radical antithesis between his former way of life and the new hope offered to him.[9]
 …to be continued

[1]  O’Brien, NIGTC: PHILIPPIANS, 382.
[2]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 179.
[3]  Ibid, 182.
[4]  Gromacki, STAND UNITED, 145.
[5]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 180.
[7]  Perschbacher, LEXICON, 419.
[8]  Kent, EBC: PHILIPPIANS, 11:140-141.
[9]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 181.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jesus in History

 Today I have been reading JESUS THE MESSIAH by Robert H. Stein. He makes the point that some things can be known about the life of Jesus from non-Christian writings or histories. He writes on page 49:

The Non-Christian sources establish beyond reasonable doubt the following minimum: (1) Jesus was truly a historical person. This may seem silly to stress, but through the years some have denied that Jesus ever lived. The nonbiblical sources put such nonsense to rest. (2) Jesus lived in Palestine in the first century of our era. (3) The Jewish leadership was involved in the death of Jesus. (4) Jesus was crucified by the Romans under the governorship of Pontius Pilate. (5) Jesus’ ministry was associated with wonders/sorcery. Much more than this we cannot learn.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Romans 1:5

Romans 1:5 is one that we tend to overlook: “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake.” It is not as simple as it looks. It challenges the Bible student and reveals more than what is on the surface. It reveals the gifts, object, and motive of ministry in Paul.

The first challenge for the student is to determine the identification of “we.” To whom does it refer? Is it all believers, or certain believers, or the author himself? There are a few who hold that the “we” refers to believers or to his church. However, the majority of scholars hold that Paul is speaking of himself in the plural form.

What we have here, therefore, the plural of category, which the Greeks readily use when they wish to put the person out of view, and to present only the principle which he represents, or the work with which he is charged [F.L. Godet, ROMANS, 82].

Wuest says the “we” refers to Paul “since it is qualified by the sphere of his ministry, to the nations or the Gentiles” [ROMANS, 16]. Thus, what we have is a statement of summary concerning Paul’s ministry. This summary involves three distinct elements:


The first thing to notice about the gifts is their SOURCE. The Source is identified in the words “by whom.” They refer back to the Lord Jesus Christ (1:4).[1]  It is the Lord Jesus Christ “by whom” the gifts are given. It is through the mediation of the glorified Christ that the gifts were given (cf. Ephesians 4:7-13).

What were these gifts? The text identifies them as “grace and apostleship.” There are two views as to the exact IDENTIFICATION of “grace and apostleship.” The first view holds that it is two gifts. This can be supported by the text. The word “and” does appear. Godet identifies the two gifts as personal salvation and apostleship (p. 82). The second view holds that this is a hendiadys, meaning “one concept is expressed by two nouns connected by and” [Hendricksen, ROMANS, 44]. They identify this as one gift, the grace (or gift) of apostleship.

Both views are possible. However, the second view is the most likely because the stress of the verse is upon Paul’s apostleship. In Romans, grace is often used in connection with apostleship. Paul seems to speak of his apostleship in Romans 15:15-16 and Galatians 2:9. Also the reference to the Gentiles places the emphasis on his apostleship. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). His apostleship was toward the Gentiles, while Peter and the eleven’s apostleship was to the circumcision, a fact recognized in Galatians 2:7-8. Nygreen correctly declares:

When the Lord revealed Himself on the Damascus road, Paul received his double call at one and the same time, by that one act and in that one revelation. The Lord had chosen him for a special mission. For the reason he received that extraordinary revelation, given only to him [ROMANS, 55].


The aim or purpose of Paul’ apostleship is “for obedience to the faith among all nations.” This phrase also has divided Bible students. The controversy is the meaning of the phrase. The Greek text simply reads eis hupakoen pisteos; literally translated “unto the obedience of faith.” There is no definite article before the word faith. The exact phrase is also found in Romans 16:26 where the KJV translated it “obedience of faith.” In both references it is used in the context of the purpose of Paul’s apostleship.

What was that purpose? Many views have been given concerning this, but they seem to settle into one of two categories:
  • First, those who hold that the genitive is objective. These hold that the faith is a body of truth, or the gospel. Haldane takes this view, declaring that the obedience “signifies submission to the doctrine of the gospel” [ROMANS, 31]. However, this view seems to be held by a minority.
  • Second, others take it as a subjective genitive. A.T. Robertson says this means, “the obedience which springs from faith [WORD PICTURES, 4:324]. In Romans the two are equivalent, as seen from 1:8 with 16:10, 10:16 and Romans 15:18 is equivalent to the phrase in Romans 1:5. Little doubt that this is the correct view. The word obedience if not commitment. But most importantly, obedience always is an act of faith.

Paul’s great purpose was DIRECTED toward the Gentiles to bring them unto obedience of faith. He was the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). This does not mean that he forgot the Jews, for their salvation was dear to him (Romans 10:1). Yet in spite of this, he had to turn to the Gentiles because they judged themselves “unworthy of eternal life” (Acts 13:46) and because he was called by God to “open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may received forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). According to his last words in this epistle, they came to faith because of “his gospel”—“the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of mystery” (Romans 16:25). The mystery is defined in Ephesians 3:6—Gentiles and Jews are equal participants in the Church, the Body of Christ.


Paul’s motive was not self, nor selfishness, but for the SAKE of Christ. Cranfield says:

…is better understood as meaning ‘for the sake of His Name” in the sense of ‘for the glory of His name’ (i.e. in order that He Himself may be know and glorified) than as meaning ‘in His name’ [ROMANS, 1:67].

Paul’s motive, that which drove him to labor night and day, was not for his own name or glory. It was for the person, dignity, authority, and glory of Christ that Paul ministered.


As one studies this much overlooked verse, there are some vital truths that every believer can draw from for our own ministry:
  • First, to recognized that we are all ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7, 11).
  • Second, that each of us individually are given gifts of ministry for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11).
  • Third, was we minister in our own sphere of ministry, our aim is to bring all to the obedience of faith.
  • Fourth, our motive of ministry is to bring glory to Christ alone.
May we all follow the model of ministry as Paul did, as he followed Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:9).


C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, Vol. 1, T & T Clark, London, 1975.
F.L. Godet, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Reprint 1956
Robert Haldane, AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS, Mac Donald Publishing, Grand Rapids, n.d.
William Hendricksen, NTC: ROMANS, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1986.
Anders Nygren, COMMENTARY ON ROMANS, Muhlenberg Press, Philadelphia, 1949.
A.T. Robertson, WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT: THE EPISTLES OF PAUL, Vol 4, Broadman, Nashville, TN, 1931.
Kenneth S. Wuest, WUEST’S WORD STUDIES FROM THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT: ROMANS, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1955.

[1]  The phrase Jesus Christ in the Greek text is found at the end of verse 4, not at the beginning of verse 3 as in the KJV. Most modern texts place it at the end of verse 4. 


Sermon in a Nutshell: 

Psalm 139

God is the greatest of all mysteries, and the greatest of all realities. He is majestic.
(Psalm 93:1-2).

The Majesty of His Knowledge (Ominiscience) Psa. 139:1-6.

The Majesty of His Presence (Ominipresent) Psa. 139:7-12

The Majesty of His Power (Ominpotent) Psa. 139:13-16

While the majesty of God may not be completely comprehensible, but He is apprehendable. We apprehend His in the person of Jesus Christ. We have the Son…we have the majesty of God with us and within us.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sermon in a Nutshell


  1. Presenting our bodies  Romans 12:1-2
  2. Praise  Hebrews 13:15
  3. Good works   Hebrews 13:16
  4. Serving God   Philippians 2:17
  5. Giving   Philippians 4:18

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Roland C. Warren
Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 2013

This book is badly needed in the church. Fatherhood has been one of the most neglected areas in most churches. Warren opens up with some facts that every Pastor needs to know. The importance of Fathers being active in their faith and churches are vital in being good dads. Studies show that Fathers active in their faith and churches greatly increases the chances that their children will remain in the church; more so than if it is just the mother. 

However, there are no perfect dads. This book reminds us clearly of that fact. Warren looks at the problems of fatherhood by giving clear examples of Dads from the Bible that had common problems experienced by families today. This includes such problems as favoritism, being paralyzed by our past, not dealing with sibling rivalry, putting down your children, doing things that destroy, discipline of children and other common problems. He looks at Bible dads that where both well-known (David, Abraham, Lot, etc) as well as mostly unknown ones (Laban, Eli, Manoah, etc).

Positively, this book shows that these problems do not have to paralyze any father. These problems can be overturned. You can move beyond your failures, and improve your relationships with your family. He gives six things a dad can do to become a better father and man. Good fathers are not perfect, but they are affirmative, physically present, being available, involved emotionally and spiritually, love and pursue the prodigal, and reach out to the fatherless.

However, I must admit I am not a father, but this book spoke to me. Every man needs to read this book. It is as much about manhood as it is about fatherhood. It is edifying and uplifting. This would make an ideal book to use in a men’s group, Sunday school class, or a preaching series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: 

Thursday, March 6, 2014


The Command to Rejoice—Phil. 3:1a

This chapter opens with a command—“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” There are two things one should consider before moving on. First, how should we take the word finally? Second, how is it connected to what follows, or does it?

The word finally is assumed to be a conclusion statement. However the Greek word loipos has a wide variety of meanings,[1] including henceforth, besides, the rest, furthermore, in addition, as well as finally. The word is used here in the present tense, which indicates continuance. It seems best to me to understand it the continuing sense, not the concluding sense. It certainly is not the start of the conclusion of the epistle, for 40% of the epistles remains from this point. Besides, the word is found again in 4:8 which is much closer to the end of the epistle.

 To me a more difficult question is how this is connected to what follows. It seems  there is disconnection between the command and what follows. While not calling it a disconnection, O’Brien points out it is an “abrupt transition.”[2] Certainly there is a change of tone in what follows. It changes from a tone of rejoicing to a tone of servere warning. Or, as Baker says: “His meek, submissive, humble tone changes to one of anger, as he warns about people he calls dogs and evil workers.”[3] Certainly there is no easy answer to the abrupt change. Some have suggested part of an earlier letter to them has been inserted into the letter. Schmithal says “Verses 3:1 and 4:4 fit together so exactly that upon sober reflection one must come to the conclusion that a later hand has pulled the two verses apart.[4] This proposal has been rejected, as it should be. There is no evidence that such an insert was made in any of the manuscripts. Others suggest that Paul had intended to bring the letter to an end at this point and as he continued decided against it.[5]

My suggestion is that this verse goes with what went before, not what follows. I agree with Calvin who wrote it is, “The conclusion of what goes before; for as Satan never ceased to dishearten them with daily rumors.”[6] Therefore, this half of verse one is connected with the exhortation of 2:17-18, and wraps up the statement of Paul to receive Epaphroditus with all joy (2:29). It is a summary statement with all that Paul had written up to this point. It is a more natural connection than to try to connect it with what follows. It also sets up a reminder for what follows, but does not lead to what comes next.

Paul’s Warning Against Errors—Phil. 3:1b-4:1

In my opinion, chapter three should start at this point: “To write the same things [again] is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you” (3:1b). It is the natural beginning. Here Paul begins to treat the false teaching and teachers of doctrine. Also he helps them in detecting and guarding themselves doctrinally.

Warning against Legalism—Phil. 3:lb-11

He opens the warning with an introductory statement. This statement implies two things: (1) Repetition. He is not troubled to write the same things. He realizes as any good teacher that repetition is a key to learning. The same things may refer back to what Paul has written in the first two chapters, particularly the exhortation of 1:25; 2:18, 28, 29, that of rejoicing. If so, then Paul seems to see the calls to rejoice as a positive attitude that will save them from the ills and false doctrine that is making its way in the local body.[7] However, joy is not the cure for disunity, but humility is (2:3-4).[8] This phrase may imply this is not the first letter he has written to them. If so, the first letter has been lost in the halls of history. There is no evidence of such a letter. Or it could refer to the same things which he spoke to them when he was with them. This is in line with the phrase “of whom I often told you” in 3:18 and is the best option in understanding the phrase: to write the same things. (2) He writes it for their protection. He wants to safeguard them. The word translated safeguard is the Greek word asphallo, meaning to make firm; secure from falling; or sure and steady. Repeated teaching of the Word is the best option to safeguard and secure the believer.

In this section we see:

  1. The nature of the warning—Phil. 3:2

Three times Paul uses the present active imperative—Beware (Greek: blepete). The present active has the idea of continual, and the imperative puts it in the voice of a command. The words give a sense of urgency. We are continually to keep on watch, or be persistent in looking out with the purpose of avoiding danger. What is this danger? That has been debated by Bible students. Some see three dangers: Gentiles, greedy teachers, and Jews. This is based on the three descriptions that follow the three bewares—“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (Phil 3:2). Dogs being Gentiles, evil teachers being greedy teachers, and the false circumcision being Jews.  However, it seems better to see the descriptions as the three-fold characteristics of the same people. But who? Hawthorne sees this group as unbelieving Jews.[9]  The majority see them as Judaizers. Judaizers have been defined as “Jewish Christians who wanted Gentile Christians to become Jews in practice.[10] They were legalists and champions of circumcising Gentiles (Acts 15:1 cf. Gal. 1:11-21). They were a continual presence and disrupters of the gospel of grace. Notice the same type of language used here is found in regard to them by Paul on other occasions (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 1:8-9; 5:12; 6:12-13). 

Paul describes these men as:
  • Dogs. While the term was used as a synonym for Gentiles (Matt. 15:26); Isaiah clearly used it to describe Israel’s false prophets (Isaiah 56:10-11). Here Paul likewise uses it as a metaphor for Judaizers who tried to impose the Law and legalism upon the Gentiles. There is a reversal here in that now these Judaizers had became the dogs. Paul uses a stronger word than did Jesus in Matthew 15:26. Wuest notes:
The dogs here were the mangy, flea-bitten, vicious starved scavengers of the oriental streets which the dogs our Lord referred to where the well-cared for little house pets of an oriental household.[11]
  • Evil workers. This speaks of their character. They were deceitful (2 Cor. 11:13). Motivated by the flesh and pride; and legalistic in their teaching. They centered on the works of the flesh (cf. Gal. 2:4; Phil. 3:18).
  • False Circumcision (cf. Gal. 6:12-13).  This speaks of their perversion. The word used here is katatomen, meaning literal “to cut up from,”[12] thus mutilation or concision. Gromacki tells us:
The descriptive title must be seen in contrast to genuine circumcision (peritome) which is based upon the same verb stem. The Judaizers were literally cutting down (kata) whereas circumcision involved a cutting around (peri). Physical mutilation, practiced in pagan idolatry, were prohibited by God through Moses (Lev. 21:5; 1 Kings 18:28).[13]
In reality they did not belong to the circumcision but to the mutilators. “When Jewish rituals are practiced in a spirit that contradicts the message of the gospel, these rituals lose their true significance and become no better than pagan practices” observes Silva.[14] Baker says, “Circumcision (peritome) as practiced by the Judizers had degenerated into concision (katatome) flesh-cutting or butchering.”[15]

  1. Basis for the warning—Phil. 3:3

For we are the [true] circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). The word for (gar) denotes the reason for the warnings. They (verse 2) are not the true circumcision. This word also sets up a contrast. In contrast—“we are the circumcision” (the word true is not in the Greek text). Some try to limit the word we here to believing Jews, and not to the Gentiles. I see two problems with this view: First, Paul writes directly to the Church, the Body of Christ: “in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands” (Col. 2:11). True circumcision involved the heart and the spirit (cf. Rom. 2:28-29). Second, the basis would be meaningless to the majority of the Philippians, since they were Gentiles. The reference is to spiritual circumcision and includes the believing Gentiles as well as the believing Jews.

It should be noted that Hawthorne concludes from this that the Church is the New Israel.[16] This is a wrong conclusion. There is no evidence that the two equates here in this passage, nor that a replacement has taken place. While circumcision of the heart applied to Israel and that it applies now to the church does not make them the same, or that one replaced or the two are made into one entity.  In addition, Paul uses the term Israel (3:5) in the national sense, and there is no indication in the context that old Israel has now become the New Israel of the church. “Nowhere in discussions of ‘spiritual circumcision’ does Scripture explicitly specify Gentiles as Jews or the church as a new Israel.[17] Besides this goes against Paul’s argument for a Renewed Israel after the times of the Gentiles has ended (Rom. 11:25-27).

Likewise the context centers upon the act of circumcision. It is clearly a rebuke to those who see physical circumcision as a necessity to have a relationship with God. He is rebuking them by building on the basis of the Old Testament as to spiritual circumcision (cf. Lev. 26:41; Deut. 10:16; Jer. 9:25-26; Ezek. 44:7). Paul makes clear that Gentiles “have been made partakers of their spiritual things” (Rom. 15:27, KJV), he still makes a distinction between the church and Israel by the words Gentiles and their (Israel). One of these spiritual things is spiritual circumcision, but the sharing in this does not make the two the same.

That this is in regard to true believers is reinforced by the three descriptive terms used in reference to spiritual circumcision by Paul.[18]
  • Who worship in the Spirit of God.” While some deny that this reference refers to the Holy Spirit, and refers to the human spirit, I see this as doubtful. I agree with Muller who says the translation should be “worship by the Spirit of God.”[19] It is “an instrumental dative, indicating that the worship is under the impulse and direction of the Holy Spirit.”[20] Lloyd-Jones gives three important aspects of true worship in the Spirit. He points out:
To worship God by the Spirit means that we do not have to force ourselves to worship him, but are conscious of being moved and being led, to worship.[21]

To worship by the Spirit of God is not something cold and formal, it is always warm and loving and free. …It is the warmth of the Spirit, not a cold formality.[22]

True worship of God in the Spirit can be tested in this way: the man who worships God in the Spirit does not think of God as some distant abstraction, almost a philosophical concept, away in the distance. The man who worships in the spirit realizes the presence of God; he knows that God is there at his side.[23]

  • Glory in Christ Jesus,” The Greek word behind the word glory is kauchaomai and clearly means glory or boasting. It is used both in the negative and positive sense in Scripture, determined by the context. The same Greek word is found in 1 Corinthians 1:29: “no man may boast [or glory] before God.” The Judaizers made their boast in the law (cf. Rom. 2:23). We are to make our boast—in Christ Jesus. It is a preposition of sphere or location. We boast or glory in Christ, who has made us acceptable to God (cf. 2 Cor. 10:7; 1 Cor. 1:31). Thus we boast in the person and work of Christ. As Eadie says:
in Christ Jesus, and in Him alone-not in Him and Moses-not in Son and servant alike; gloried in Him; in His great condescension; His birth and its wonders; His life and its blessings; His death and its benefits; His ascension and its pledges; His return, and its stupendous and permanent results.”[24]

  • Put no confidence in the flesh.” This third participial phrase signifies the grounds in which we cannot boast (cf. 1 Cor. 1:29). This is in sharp contrast to the Judaizers who are putting confidence in the fleshly act of circumcision. It is in contrast to glorying in Christ. Confidence in the flesh is to trust in human attainment and works. In light of the context, Paul is rejecting ritualism as a ground for confidence before God.

This verse also should be seen as a transition verse. Paul takes the concept of boasting and confidence and carries it over to his experience. Three key phrases account for the summary of Paul’s experience.

Phil 3:8
Phil 3:12
Phil 3:20
I count loss
I press on
Look for

[1]  Perschbacher, NEW ANALYTICAL GREEK LEXICON, 260
[2]  O’Brien, NIGTC: PHILIPPIANS, 347.
[4]  Quoted by Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 165.
[5]  Ibid, 167.
[7]  Hawthorne, WBC:PHILIPPIANS, 124.
[8]  O’Brien, NIGTC:PHILIPPIANS, 351.
[9]   Hawthorne, WBC:PHILIPPIANS, 125.
[10]  Siliva, PHILIPPIANS 169.
[11]  Wuest, PHILIPPIANS, 87.
[12]  Perschbacher, LEXICON, 228.
[13]  Gromacki, STAND UNITED IN JOY, 135.
[14]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 170.
[16]  Hawthorne, WBC: PHILIPPIANS, 126.
[18]  These are in contrast with the three descriptive terms used of the Judaizers in verse 2.
[19]  Muller, NICNT:PHILIPPIANS, 107 fn 4.
[21]  D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, THE LIFE OF PEACE, 28.
[22]  Ibid, 29.
[23]  Ibid, 30.
[24]  Eadie, PHILIPPIANS [3:3].


I have been doing some reading on the Song of Songs. In doing so, I read Daniel Estes chapter in WHAT THE OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORS REALLY CARED ABOUT. He gives three important points about the Song of Songs:
(1) The Author of the Song of Songs Traced the Progress of Intimacy from initial Attraction to Maturity.
(2) The Author of the Song of Songs Extolled Erotic Love Within Marriage as God’s Good Gift.
(3) The Author of the Song of Songs Described the Transforming Power of Love.

Source: Jason S. DeRouchie (Editor), WHAT THE OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORS REALLY CARED ABOUT, Kregel Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 2013