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Philippians 3:3

ESV For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
NIV For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--
NASB for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh,
CSB For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh--
NLT For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,
KJV For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

What does Philippians 3:3 mean?

This verse explains the safety Paul had referred to in verse 1. Paul promoted salvation by faith, not by following Jewish customs. As the most obvious physical sign of Judaism, "circumcision" is often used as a metaphor for the entire Old Testament law.

Instead of hollow legalism, true followers of Jesus are marked by three practices. First, their worship is spiritual and recognizable by a focus on the Holy Spirit's work in their lives.

Second, they put their faith and worship in Christ, not the law. The Old Testament law looked forward to the Messiah, but did not know who He would be. Believers glory in Christ Jesus, who had been revealed as the Son of God, the predicted Jewish Messiah.

Third, Christians don't stake their eternity, or their spiritual lives, on rituals or their own good works. Again, circumcision is part of the general context here. The proper confidence of a Christian is not in whether a person has been circumcised—or followed some other religious ritual—but whether they have received salvation through faith in Jesus.

The ritual of circumcision is not morally wrong now, and was not wrong when Paul wrote this letter. Paul would soon note his own circumcision (Philippians 3:5). In the same way, adherence to the Torah was also positive, but not absolutely required (Philippians 3:7). However, in comparison with knowing Christ, these things were unimportant (Philippians 3:7–8). In particular, they are not something that can grant forgiveness of sins before God. Jesus offers a righteousness that is not of the law, but through faith (Philippians 3:9).
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