What does Philippians 3:3 mean?
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.
NKJV: For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Philippians 3:1–11 warns Christians about the influence of false teachers, particularly those who add legalism on top of the gospel. Paul describes his impressive credentials, showing that he has the right to consider himself ''justified'' according to the traditional Jewish view. And yet, knowing what he does of Christ, Paul sees all of those accomplishments as garbage. Faith alone saves, and fellowship with Christ is all that truly matters.
Chapter Summary:
Paul details his impressive Jewish resume. None of his critics or challengers could boast the pedigree carried by Paul. He mentions this only to emphasize how little such things mean, next to faith in Christ. Paul's language here is sharp and to the point. He then explains how a Christian's focus ought to be purely on Christ, just as a runner concentrates on their goal in order to run effectively. Rather than looking to the past, or to ourselves, we ought to look forward, to an eternity with the Lord.
Chapter Context:
In chapters 1 and 2, Paul explained how Christians should respond to hardships. Since Christ was willing to obey God, even to the point of death, we should do the same. Complaining and worry have no place in the life of a saved believer. Chapter 3 makes a bold contrast. Paul's credentials, according to Jewish tradition, were impeccable. And yet, for him, none of those accomplishments are worth anything next to fellowship with Christ. For this reason, Christ is to be the sole focus of the believer. This sets up Paul's final greetings and instructions in chapter 4.
Book Summary:
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
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