(Vs. l..) Paul begins chapter 3 with the theme and watchword of every believer: "Rejoice in our Lord.' Christ Jesus is our chief joy:
1. In the greatness of his person, very God of very God;
2. In the fitness of his incarnation, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh;
3. In the sufficiency of his righteousness and atonement;
4. In the comforts of his providence and purpose;
5. In the glory of his intercession and return.
"To write the same things to you is not tiresome." He rejoices to repeat the gospel of Christ over and over, for it is necessary.
1. It keeps your thoughts and hearts on Christ, the Foundation.
2. It keeps you from the errors of false teachers.
3.When truth is repeated, it guards you against self. righteousness and other errors.
(Vs.2.) These are the false teachers from the Jews, who were imposing the works and ceremonies of the law upon the Gentiles as being necessary to salvation. Paul uses the same name on them which they used to give to the Gentiles "dogs!" He calls them "evil workers" because they misled the people, deceived them and perverted the gospel of Christ. "Beware of the circumcisers" (those who mutilate the flesh for sanctifying purposes). Circumcision served its day as a token of the covenant and may be recommended as a hygienic measure, but it has no place or meaning in the covenant of grace.
(Vs. 3.) "We are the true circumcision, not they. They have the name, the form, the outward sign. We have in Christ and in the new birth its fulfillment". It is the difference between having the lamb of the Old Testament sacrifice and having Christ, the Lamb of God.
1. True circumcision is having the heart pricked and laid open by the Spirit.
2. True circumcision is a renouncing of our own righteousness.
3. True circumcision is of the heart, not the flesh.
4. It is to draw nigh to God with the heart, not the body.
5. It is to rejoice in our completeness in Christ, having no confidence in carnal descent, tribe or family, ceremony or law. Our salvation and acceptance by God are only in Christ, not in anything connected with this flesh. We worship God in heart and in Spirit, not in outward rituals and ceremonies. We rejoice in Christ, in whom we are complete (Col. 2:9,10). We have no confidence in our own fleshly works nor in anyone else.
(Vs. .4.) Paul illustrates the point using himself: "If there is any value in our family ties, ceremonies, religious works and performances, outward obedience to law and rites, I have more room to boast than any of these false teachers."
(Vs. 5, 6.) Paul was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel (not an Ishmaelite or a proselyte, but a natural Israelite), of the tribe of Benjamin (this tribe was from Jacob and Rachel and kept true worship when ten revolted), had a Hebrew mother and a Hebrew father, was a Pharisee (the strictest sect of the Jews, held in highest esteem), persecuted the church, and with respect to the observance of the outward law, was blameless.
(Vs. 7.) At one time he felt that all these things were necessary for acceptance with God, were necessary for righteousness and entitled him to the favour of God. When God revealed Christ to him, he saw all these things to be worthless in themselves. Christ is our sacrifice, our sanctification and our righteousness. He is the fulfilment of all these. That which was everything to Paul became nothing; Christ became everything (Col. 3:11).
(Vs. 8.) "Furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to that priceless privilege (that overwhelming advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake I lost everything in order that I may have Christ, the Redeemer."
1. He renounced not only the Jewish ceremonies, but worldly honour, reputation, substance, comforts and advantages.
2. He lost self-righteousness and gained Christ's righteousness.
3. He lost ceremonial bondage and gained his freedom.
4. He lost false peace and gained true peace with God.
5. He lost pretended glory and gained eternal glory (1 Cor. 1:30,31).
(Vs. 9-11.) This is my determined purpose, my one desire, my soul and heart's sincere hope, which is threefold:
1. "That I may win Christ and be found in him," not trusting or having any self-achieved righteousness in works and deeds, possessing that genuine righteousness of God which comes through faith in Christ - that holiness and perfect righteousness which he gives to his own (Col. l: 22).
2. "That I may really know him." I do know him, but I want progressively to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him and the wonders of his person; that I may come to know the power flowing from his resurrection and the strength it gives to believers; that I may so know and share his sufferings as to be transformed continually into his likeness, daffy dying to sin and the world.
3. "That I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Paul may be referring here to the resurrection of the body in the likeness of Christ in the great day of our Lord. However (because of the next verse), I believe he is talking about a moral and spiritual resurrection that lifts us out of the death and darkness of the world and sin. The world, the flesh and all of this human life are death. In Christ there is real life, real love, real holiness. There is communion with God and perfect righteousness. This is what I want. By whatever means it pleases God to bring me to this place, I want to be like Christ in attitude, spirit and heart.