Philippians 3:4-6 Commentary

 

 

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Philippians 3:4-6 Commentary

Philippians 3:4 although I myself might have (PAPMSN)  confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind  (3SPAI to put confidence  (RAN in the flesh, I far more (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kaiper ego echon (PAPMSN) pepoithesin kai en sarki. ei tis dokei (3SPAI) allos pepoithenai (RAN) en sarki, ego mallon
Amplified: Though for myself I have [at least grounds] to rely on the flesh. If any other man considers that he has or seems to have reason to rely on the flesh and his physical and outward advantages, I have still more!
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot: And yet, whatever be the value of this confidence in the flesh, I assert it as well. If any other man claims to put trust in the flesh, my claim is greater.
Phillips: If it were right to have such confidence, I could certainly have it, and if any of these men thinks he has grounds for such confidence I can assure him I have more.  (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Although as for myself, I [as a Jew] could be having confidence also in the flesh. If, as is the case, anyone else presumes to have come to a settled persuasion, trusting in the flesh, I could occupy that place, and with more reason;  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: though I also have cause of trust in flesh. If any other one doth think to have trust in flesh, I more;

REFERENCES ON PHILIPPIANS

Albert Barnes
Brian Bell
Brian Bill
Analytical Greek
John Calvin
Rich Cathers
Steven Cole
Thomas Constable
Ron Daniel
Bob Deffinbaugh
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
John Eadie
Dwight Edwards
Charles Ellicott
Explore the Bible
Expositor's Greek
David Guzik
Bruce Goettsche
L M Grant
Scott Harris
Matthew Henry
Greg Herrick
IVP NT Commentary
Jamieson, F, B
William Kelly
Guy King
Lange's Commentary
J B Lightfoot
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
J Vernon McGee
H C G Moule
Gene Pensiero
John Piper
Ray Pritchard
Grant Richison
A T Robertson
Rob Salvato
Chuck Smith
Chuck Smith
Speaker's Com
Marvin Vincent
Marvin Vincent
John Walvoord
Steve Zeisler
Precept Aids
Precept Ministries
Philippians 3
Philippians:3:1 -11
Philippians 3:1-11 Losing to Gain
Philippians 3
Philippians 3
Philippians 3-4 Survey Philippians 3:1-7
Philippians 3:1-3 True vs Counterfeit Christianity
Philippians Notes
Philippians 3:1-11
Philippians 3:1-11 Paul’s Perspective on Profit and Loss
Philippians 3:1-11 Knowing the Power of Christ's Resurrection
Philippians 3:1-11 Rejoice in the Lord
Philippians 3:1-6 Put No Confidence in the Flesh
Philippians 3:1-11 When Gain is Loss, and Loss Means Greater Gain
Philippians 3:1-11 The Christian's Triple Gain

Philippians Commentary on the Greek Text
Philippians: Earthly Conduct of Heavenly Citizens
The Epistle to the Philippians
Philippians 3: Faithful Service
The Expositor's Greek Testament
Philippians 3 Chapter 3
Philippians 3:1-11: Christ Alone
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3:1-7 Joy in the Lord, Not the Flesh
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3:1-8 True Righteousness.. Contrasts
Philippians 3: Chapter 3
Philippians 3 Commentary
The Epistle to the Philippians
Philippians 3:1-11 Profit and Loss Account
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3:4-8 Religious Credentials
Philippians 3:4-11 Evaluating Your Relationship in Christ
Philippians Mp3 tracks
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3
Philippians 3:1-14 Called to Suffer
Philippians 3:1-11: From Rubbish to Jesus
Philippians 3:4 3:5 3:5b 3:5c 3:6 3:6b
Philippians 3: Greek Word Studies

Philippians 3:1-6  Philippians 3:7-16
Philippians 3

Philippians 3:7-14 Staying Stirred Up
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3: Greek Word Studies
Philippians 3 Commentary
Philippians 3 We Look for the Savior
Philippians 3:1-11
Philippians - Inductive Study Helps
Philippians - Download Lesson 1

ALTHOUGH I MYSELF MIGHT HAVE CONFIDENCE EVEN IN THE FLESH: kaiper ego echon (PAPMSN) pepoithesin kai en sarki: (2Cor 11:18, 19, 20, 21, 22)

“Though I am in the possession of confidence too in the flesh.”

If the "false circumcision" could brag, how much more so could he!

Eadie adds that...

The apostle had declared of himself, that he belonged to those who have no confidence in the flesh; and lest his opponents should imagine that his want of confidence in the flesh was simply the absence of all foundation for it, and that he was making a virtue of necessity, he adds, that he had all the warrant any man ever had—nay, more warrant than most men ever had—to trust in the flesh. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)

Spurgeon comments...

So that, if anybody could have boasted of what he was by birth, what he was by profession, what he was by the display of religious zeal, Paul could have boasted as boldly as anyone could, for in all those respects he was second to nobody. You know that it is a very easy thing, or it ought to be a very easy thing, for some people to be humble, for they have nothing to be proud of, but here is a man who had much of which he might have been proud. According to the letter of the law, he was a diamond of the first water; yet see what a different verdict he gives after grace has opened his eyes.

IF ANYONE ELSE HAS A MIND TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH I FAR MORE: ei tis dokei (3SPAI) allos pepoithenai (RAN) en sarki ego mallon:

Has a mind (1380) (dokeo)  may denote either to think or to seem and could be read "if any man thinks in himself".

Paul for the moment, places himself on the same ground as his antagonists to show that even according to their standards, he had superior ground for confidence. He then begins to take inventory of the human attainments and merits in which he might trust. These are Paul's "religious credentials". For argument's sake, Paul plays the part of his opponents so that he may show how much better he can play it than they.

I far more - Spurgeon notes that...

If anybody might, Paul might. If birth, if education, or if external religiousness could have saved anybody in the world, it would have saved Saul of Tarsus.

Eadie writes that...

As his manner is, the apostle “goes off” in an allusion to his own history and experience. As he proceeds, the emotion deepens into vehemence, and while he muses for a moment on his own inner life, the thoughts welling “out of the abundance” of his heart arrange themselves into a lyrical modulation. He boasts of being a true son of Israel, not sprung from one of the tribes which had so early apostatized, but from the honoured tribe of Benjamin. He was also of untainted descent—an adherent of the “most straitest sect” —ardent in his profession, as evinced by his persecution of the church—performing with scrupulous exactness every rite of fasting, tithing, or sacrifice, so that had salvation been awarded to the fervent and punctual devotions of the chamber or the sanctuary, he might have died in confidence and peace. Therefore he now proceeds to enumerate the advantages which he possessed, in which he might have trusted, and in some of which he did once trust. The Judaizing fanatics could not say, that he made light of these privileges because he had none of them; for he had more than most of them, and yet he felt their utter insignificance. The persons whom the apostle had in his eye were in some respects behind him: at least he says—“I more.” Some of them might be proselytes circumcised in manhood; others might be of mixed blood; others may have been originally of Sadducean creed: while few of them had manifested that uniform obedience to the law which had distinguished him, and that downright devotedness to Judaism which had led him to seek the extirpation of its young and vigorous rival by violence and blood. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians)

 

Philippians 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: peritome oktaemeros, ek genous Israel, phules Beniamin, Hebraios ec Hebraion, kata nomon Pharisaios
Amplified: Circumcised when I was eight days old, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew [and the son] of Hebrews; as to the observance of the Law I was of [the party of] the Pharisees, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot: I was circumcised on the eighth day, a child of believing parents. I am descended of an old Israelite stock. I belong to the loyal and renowned tribe of Benjamin. I am of a lineage which has never conformed to foreign usages, but has preserved throughout the language and the customs of the fathers. Thus much for my inherited privileges; and now for my personal career. Do they speak of law? I belong to the Pharisees, the strictest of all sects.
Phillips:  I was born a true Jew, I was circumcised on the eighth day, I was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, I was in fact a full-blooded Jew.  (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: eight days old in circumcision, my origin from Israelitish stock, belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew from true Hebrew parents [i.e., not a Hellenist], with reference to the law, a Pharisee,  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: circumcision on the eighth day! of the race of Israel! of the tribe of Benjamin! a Hebrew of Hebrews! according to law a Pharisee!

circumcised the eighth day: peritome oktaemeros: (Ge 17:12; Luke 2:21; Jn 7:21, 22, 23, 24)

Circumcision (4061) (peritome [word study] from perí = around + témno = cut off) refers literally to cutting and removal of the foreskin. (Click word study of peritome)

In circumcision an eighth–day man.  Converts to Judaism were circumcised in maturity, Ishmaelites in their thirteenth year. But Paul was neither. He was no proselyte but was a pure-blooded Jew.

Eadie notes that...

Circumcision on the eighth day was according to divine enactment. Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3. The apostle was a born Jew, and on the appointed day had received the seal of the Abrahamic covenant. The rite was for no reason deferred, and if any merit accrued from strict compliance with the law, he had it. The apostle makes good his declaration not only of "I possess", but of "I more". The proselytes and Idumeans could not say so, for only in riper years could they be circumcised. Paul, therefore, left all such boasters behind him (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)

of the nation of Israel: ek genous Israel: (Acts 22:3; 2Cor 11:22)

Not only was he not a proselyte, but he was not the son of proselytes. If any of his readers were Gentile proselytes to Judaism the things recorded in Ephesians would have been true of them...

remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:12-note)

Paul's pedigree is presented. Even the most stellar pedigree will not merit entry into heaven.

Nation (1085) (genos from ginomai = to become or come into being) refers to offspring or posterity and in this context refers to the entire nation of Israel.

Of (ek) means "out of" and here is used to denote origin, the class or country of Paul who was not out of Esau but out of Jacob and thus a member of God’s chosen earthly people.

of the tribe of Benjamin: phules Beniamin: (Ro 11:1)

Tribe (5443) (phule from phúlon = race, tribe, class <> phúo = generate, produce) means race, lineage, kindred. It describes a nation or people descended from a common ancestor (See Benjamin, The Tribe Of)

Paul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe highly thought of, source of the first king of Israel (whose name - "Saul - he bore), the tribe that remained loyal to David (when 10 others revolted), and which formed with Judah the foundation for the restored nation after the captivities.

Eadie adds that...

The apostle means to derive some honour from his tribal lineage. It could scarcely be from this, that the first king of Israel belonged to this tribe, or that the apostle bore the royal name. Benjamin was a favourite son by a favourite wife, and the tribe is styled by Moses the “beloved of the Lord.” Deut. 33:12. That tribe also had the capital and temple in its canton, was long identified with the great tribe of Judah, and had returned with it to Palestine, while the more northern tribes had almost ceased to exist as distinct branches of the house of Israel. He could give his genealogy. Ro. 11:1.

a Hebrew of Hebrews: Hebraios ec Hebraion: (Ge 14:13; 40:15; 41:12; 1Sa 4:6; Jonah 1:9; Acts 6:1; 2Cor 11:22)

Wuest says Paul

was the son of Hebrew parents who had retained their Hebrew language and customs, in contrast to the Hellenized Jews who read the Old Testament in the Greek language. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos)

In contrast with Greek-speaking Jews (Hellenists), Paul came from a family that had retained the original Hebrew language and customs.

Spurgeon comments...

That is, one who observed all the minutiae and details of the ceremonial law,, and a good deal more, — the traditions of the elders which hung like moss about the old stone of Jewish ceremonialism. Paul had observed all that.

Eadie explains that...

the force of the phrase (Hebrew of Hebrews) goes beyond immediate parentage. He was aware of no hybrid Gentile admixture, though his ancestors may have lived in Gentile countries. He was sprung of pure Hebrew blood, there having been no cross marriage to taint the descent. Thus does the apostle characterize his lineage:— circumcised on the eighth day, and therefore no foreign convert admitted in mature life, but having parents who coveted and transmitted the Abrahamic rite for their family;—of the stock of Israel, and having a hereditary right to the seal of the national covenant with all its blessings;—of the tribe of Benjamin, able to ascertain and prove his descent, and not of one of any of the tribes geographically lost or individually absorbed by the rest;—a Hebrew of the Hebrews, descended from a long line of pure ancestry, without any accidental infusion on either side of foreign blood. There is a species of climax. A proselyte might circumcise his child on the eighth day; another might be of the stock of Israel and yet his mother might not be a Jewess, as was the case with Obed and Timothy; for such a one might be of the tribe of Benjamin and yet not a Hebrew of the Hebrews. Extraction of undoubted purity distinguished him, while some of his opponents, with all their Judaizing zeal, could make no such assertion - "I far more"

Having enumerated his privileges as a member of Abraham's race, the apostle proceeds to show how he improved them. What he had enjoyed as a child was not lost upon him as a man. He was not contented with being one of the Jewish mass, but he sought in riper years to realize the advantages of his birth. Not satisfied with a passive possession of blood and birth, he laboured to appropriate all its blessings. He was a religious man—sincerely and intelligently attached to the law and all the venerated traditions of the fathers, and not simply a born Jew, proud of his ancestry, but indifferent to their faith—venerating the name of Moses, but careless of his law, save in so far as national customs had habituated him to its observance. Could the same be said of all his adversaries who now made such an outcry about the Abrahamic rite? (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians)

as to the Law, a Pharisee: kata nomon Pharisaios: (Acts 23:6; 26:4,5)

First his pedigree and now his practice.

A Pharisee - Paul was a passionate adherent of the strictest religious tradition among the Jews. The Pharisees were noted for their strong attachment to the law—for their observance of all its ceremonial minutiae—and their determination, at all hazards, to uphold its validity.

Pharisee as described in Easton's Bible Dictionary were...

separatists (Hebrew persahin, from parash, "to separate"). They were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the "pious"), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (B.C. 145). The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39; 18:12). Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6, 7, 8; 26:4, 5).

There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form (external) and nothing more (Jesus described them)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (Mt 23:27)

Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a "generation of vipers." They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1, 2, 3, 4).

From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear His doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy His influence among the people. (see more description of Pharisees)

Eadie sums up noting that...

Paul was not only a Pharisee, but “the son of a Pharisee” —brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, a famous teacher of the sect. His mind had never been tainted by Sadducean unbelief, nor had he been fascinated by the ascetic theosophy of the Essene. If the apostle would not bind the law on the Gentile churches, it was not because he had not studied it or had not understood it, nor yet because he had either lived in indifference to its claims or been trained in prejudice against its venerable authority. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians - 387 page book in Pdf)

 

Philippians 3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor (PAPMSN) of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found  (AMPMSN) blameless (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kata zelos diokon (PAPMSN) ten ekklesian, kata dikaiosunen ten en nomo genomenos (AMPMSN) amemptos
Amplified: As to my zeal, I was a persecutor of the church, and by the Law’s standard of righteousness (supposed justice, uprightness, and right standing with God) I was proven to be blameless and no fault was found with me. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot:  Of zeal? I persecuted the Church. This surely is enough! Of righteousness? In such righteousness as consists in obedience to the law, I have never been found a defaulter.
Phillips: As far as keeping the Law is concerned I was a Pharisee, and you can judge my enthusiasm for the Jewish faith by my active persecution of the Church. As far as the Law's righteousness is concerned, I don't think anyone could have found fault with me. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: with regard to zeal, persecuting the Church, with reference to that kind of righteousness which is in the law, become blameless (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: according to zeal persecuting the assembly! according to righteousness that is in law becoming blameless!

as to zeal a persecutor of the church: kata zelos diokon (PAPMSN) ten ekklesian: (2Sa 21:2; 2 Ki 10:16; Acts 21:20; Ro 10:2; Gal 1:13,14) (Acts 8:3; 9:1-19; 22:3,4; 26:9,10;  Co 15:9; 1Ti 1:13)

Zeal (2205) (zelos from zeo = to be hot or fervent) describes an eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something and can have a good sense but in context (and as used most often in NT) here zelos has an evil sense, meaning envy, jealousy, anger.

Persecutor (1377) (dioko from dio = pursue, prosecute, persecute) is a verb meaning to follow or press hard after, pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain, go after with the desire of obtaining. In context dioko means to pursue with repeated acts of enmity. It means to systematically organize a program to oppress and harass people.

Spurgeon writes that Paul...

was most zealous in the cause that he thought right. Bitterly, cruelly, even to the death, did he persecute the believers in Jesus.

Eadie adds that...

The apostle had been no passive supporter of the law. While he upheld it, he upheld it with his might. And when the supremacy of that law seemed to be endangered by the growth of Christianity, with characteristic ardour and impetuosity he flung himself into the contest. He could not be a supine and listless spectator. The question was to him one of conscience and submission to divine authority, and therefore he deemed it his duty to imprison, torture, and kill the abettors of the infant faith, whose most malignant feature, as he thought, was its antagonism to Moses. Others might stand aloof, fold their hands in indifference, and yield a facile acquiescence in events as they occurred. But the disciple of Gamaliel was in terrible earnest. Believing that in speaking “words against Moses” there was open blasphemy, and that the glory of God and the spiritual interests of his country were in imminent hazard, he felt himself doing God service when he resolved to hunt down and extirpate the rising heresy, and “breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.” Foremost among the zealots stood Saul of Tarsus. Had his adversaries ever shown a similar fervour—had they so openly committed themselves? His zeal for the law outstripped theirs. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians)

as to the righteousness which is in the Law found blameless:  kata dikaiosunen ten en nomo genomenos (AMPMSN) amemptos: (Mt 5:20; 23:25; Mk 10:20,21; aLk 1:6; Acts 26:5; Ro 7:9; 9:31,32; 10:2, 3, 4, 5)

Righteousness which is in the Law - This refers not to God's righteousness imputed or credited to man by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead this represents man's righteousness, often referred to as self-righteousness as was exemplified by the pride filled Pharisees in Jesus' and Paul's day. As a Pharisee Paul was one of an elite corps of 6,000 Pharisees who believed that they could attain salvation by keeping the Law, basically a list of "do's and don'ts". This righteousness which is based on self effort and external obedience to rules and regulations is unacceptable to God. Self righteousness can never bring a sinner into right relationship with God. This is the righteousness that Paul is describing in this passage.

Which is in the Law - Means having its source in obedience to the law.

Eadie adds that this righteousness...

does not signify either equity or fair dealing between man and man, but depicts that aspect of state or relation to the Divine law, which secures, or is believed to secure, acceptance with God. It is here characterized as being found in the law, or having its source in obedience to the law. With respect to such righteousness, he was perfect. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians)

Spurgeon comments that...

Paul had been kept from the vices into which many fell. In his young days, he had been pure; and all his days, he had been upright and sincere. As far as he knew, to the best of his light, he had observed the law of God.

In another place, he calls himself the chief of sinners; and so he was, because he persecuted the Church of God; but, in another sense, I may say of him that there is no man who stood so good a chance of being justified by works as Paul did, if there could have been any justification in that way.

Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune from dikaios = being proper or right in the sense of being fully justified and in accordance with what God requires) is the character or quality of being right and thus conveys the idea of conforming to a standard or norm. The righteousness of God is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves and all that He provides (thru Christ).  God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be.

The "right" kind of righteousness is rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men. This right kind of righteousness (which comes by grace through faith in the Gospel) stands in opposition to the righteousness which is of the Law and involves self-effort.

Paul referred to this kind of righteousness in his other epistles...

Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. (Ro 10:5-note)

Comment: Of course he won't merit eternal life and so he must also die eternally by that righteousness.

"Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." (Galatians 3:21)

Comment: What Paul is saying is that the purpose of the Law was never given as a means by which a man might secure his own righteousness either by his good works and/or in his futile attempts to try to perfectly keep the Law.

Men are born into Adam and inherit his sinful nature which is opposed to God and at enmity with Him. Unregenerate (not born again by grace through faith) man attempts to construct his own set of standards by which he defines his own righteousness. Obedience to such standards  can never satisfy God because His standard is absolute perfect obedience and sinlessness, qualities not possible for men born with Adam's proclivity to commit sins. God’s righteousness is imputed (credited, reckoned to one's account) as a gift to man and not earned.

Found blameless - Eadie explains this as follows...

He thought himself, and others thought him, without a flaw. He did whatever the law had enjoined; abstained from whatever the law had forbidden; omitted no duty, and committed no violation of legal precept. In form at least, and in external compliance, his obedience was exemplary, without occasional lapse or visible inconsistency... Such, then, is the record of the apostle's grounds of confidence in the flesh, and who of those opposed to him could boast of more of them? He had no confidence in the flesh, or mere externalism; and yet, if any man was ever warranted to have such confidence, it was he who had more of it than most, but who now with changed views so vehemently decried it, as opposed to the spirituality of the gospel and fatal to salvation. (Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians)

Blameless (273) (amemptos [words study] from a = negates following word + mémphomai = find fault) means irreproachable, faultless, without defect or blemish and thus describes not being able to find fault in someone or some thing (cf use in He 8:7 [note] regarding the Old Covenant).  The idea is that the person is such that he or she is without the possibility of rightful charge being brought against them. Paul's desire for the Philippian saints is that there be no legitimate ground for accusation when the Lord returns to judge (see discussion of the bema or Judgment Seat of Christ for believers) (1Th 3:13-note for Paul's similar desire and prayer for the saints at Thessalonica).

This adjective was  often used to characterize someone who is flawless in the sight of other people. The related adverb  amémptōs (differs by mark over the "o") is the very word archeologists have found on Christian tombs from ancient Thessalonica. When people wanted to identify a deceased friend or loved one as a Christian, they inscribed "amémptōs" or "blameless" on his or her grave, such behavioral blamelessness (not just the imputed and forensic) is the Lord’s desire for His church.

Barclay adds that amemptos...

expresses what the Christian is to the world. His life is of such purity that none can find anything in it with which to find fault. It is often said in courts of law that the proceedings must not only be just but must be seen to be just. The Christian must not only be pure, but the purity of his life must be seen by all. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

That Paul was blameless (in regard to the Law) is indeed a remarkable claim when one considers the minutiae of Pharisaic legislation. But more importantly Paul did not keep the Law perfectly in God's eyes (Ro 7:9, 10-note), but only in the eyes of men.

At this point you might ask “How could a sincere man like Saul of Tarsus be so wrong?” The answer is that he was using the wrong measuring stick! His standard of measure was human and not divine.

Like the rich young ruler (Mk 10:17-22) and the Pharisee in Christ’s parable (Lk 18:10, 11, 12, 13, 14), Saul of Tarsus was looking at the outside and not the inside. He was comparing himself with standards set by men, not by God. As far as obeying outwardly the demands of the Law, Paul was a success, but he did not grasp the gravity of the inward sins he was committing.

In the Sermon on the Mount (See in depth verse by verse notes), Jesus makes it clear that there are sinful attitudes and appetites as well as sinful actions (Mt 5:21ff-note).

When he looked at himself or looked at others, Saul of Tarsus considered himself to be righteous. But one day he saw himself compared with the risen Lord Jesus Christ! It was then that this heart was genuinely "circumcised" and he forsook “works righteousness” accepting by faith the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Spurgeon sums up Paul's "self" description remarking that...

I do not know what more he could have had. If a Jew had tried to select a man who had something to glory in, he could not have picked any man to stand in the front of Paul. He was truly a Jew, he had received the initiatory rite, and on the right day. He was born of the innermost tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, in whose country stood the temple itself. He was O, Pharisee, who pushed the law to the extreme; he tithed his mint and his cummin. Nobody could have anything to glory in which Paul had not.

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Last Updated July, 2013

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