(Warren E. Berkley)
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
I’ve looked at this passage for many years and have always thought, first, of this simple point: There is value in review. “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul didn’t consider it a problem to repeat what he had said or written before. Review has spiritual value. We need to hear, over and over, the truth of the gospel of Christ. In fact, if, as you listen to your local preacher, you begin to hear things you’ve never heard before … and have not found in Scripture – well, question that!
The rest of this passage conveys one primary point: “Look out for the bad guys, who aggressively advance a fleshly Judaistic religion.” Paul says, “I was like that once. I share their ground of boasting. But, I gave all that up to know Christ and serve Him.”
Evildoers, false teachers, were aggressively seeking to recruit Christians to their ill-conceived cause (a heavy hand of legalistic Judaism, imposed on Christians). Their actions included their claim that they were the true Jews, the real people of God who had authentic access to God. Their boasting – their religious resume – Paul could identify with.
But Paul was not holding tightly to that resume. His Jewish background was not his ground of boasting nor his evangelistic story.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ … to be found in Him … that I may know Him and share in His suffering.” etc.
Paul could boast like the evildoers, but he had given all that up – “for the sake of Christ.” To form a relationship with God through Christ was far more important to Paul than boasting about his Jewish background.