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Philippians 3:4b-14 - Cutting away your flesh spiritually, so you can be a place of Christ of Jesus

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

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If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard 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 one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.


This is the Epistle selection to be read aloud on the fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow an Old Testament reading from Isaiah, which tells of Yahweh saying, “I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.” That will be followed by a singing of Psalm 126, where David wrote: “Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.” All will accompany a Gospel reading from John, where Judas Iscariot asked Jesus, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"

The beginning of this reading takes place in the middle of verse four. That has it lose the context established in the three-plus verses Paul wrote before. When he is shown to say, “circumcised on the eighth day,” this follows his having said, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God”. (Philippians 3:2-3a, NRSV) From having that context, to now read “circumcised on the eighth day” is a statement of the true rite practiced by Jews (descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). This is then stated as a contrast for the meaning of the Greek word “katatomēn,” which has been translated as “mutilation of the flesh” in the second verse. Paul then wrote the Greek word “peritomē,” the same word as used in verse four here, which translates as “circumcision.” The element of the “eighth day” must be seen as an incision performed on a newborn infant, by a kohen or priest; and, it is not something done by “dogs” [from “kynas,” used in verse two, meaning those who “mutilate the flesh”], who perform such things as female “mutilation,” to prevent females from having sexual pleasures, done at an older age in life. Thus, Paul stating he was “circumcised on the eighth day” says he was not some heathen or Gentile who had practices that “mutilated,” as he instead was a certifiable Jew.

Is it the eighth day already?

Still, for Paul to say this after saying that “it is we who are the circumcision,” this says Jews who mark their babies by physical incisions – as a member of a religious race-sect-class – is no different than the rites Christians do to their infants (christening). A male Jew being visibly marked as a Jew by circumcisions is not what identifies a soul that is married to Yahweh and serves Him absolutely. Likewise, a Christian anointed with baptismal water – ladled over its forehead by a priest (in the same way a kohen carefully incises a male child’s penis) – does not mark a soul as Yahweh’s. In verse two (which is not read aloud, thus not realized for this reading), Paul was saying only divine “circumcision” did such marking; and, true “circumcision” means those “who in the Spirit of God worshiping kai boasting in Christ Jesus kai not in flesh having put confidence” [Literal translation of the Greek text]. This says the truth of “circumcision” is the permanent (not temporary) marking of a soul as Yahweh’s possession.

This means that the beginning focus that comes, from Paul writing, “If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more,” says there were few who could say they were more Jewish than was Paul. As a physical specimen of Judaism, Paul had checked off all the means by which Jews were measured. He was “circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee.” That was not Paul bragging that he was more Jewish than any other Jew; it was Paul inferring that some told Gentiles that conversion to Judaism meant a “mutilation” at an adult age of life. Such acts (performed by “dogs”) could do nothing to alter a soul through the flesh. Thus, Paul was born a Jew and had a lineage of blood that made it possible for him (unlike converted Gentiles) to claim he was more a Jew.

In the string of evidence Paul listed, it is important to realize the meaning behind the capitalized words used: Israel, Benjamin, Hebrew-Hebrews, and Pharisee. The word “Israel” should identify one “Who Retains God,” where the “el” of “Israel” does not mean one who believes in Yahweh. The true meaning says a soul has become one of His elohim (which would be “Who Retains Yahweh as one of His elohim. ). Benjamin is a name that states, “Son of the Right Hand” or “Son of the South.” This was the name given to Jacob’s youngest son, as his beloved wife Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin. Rachel called her son “Son of Sorrow" (“benoni”), but Jacob immediately changed it. Jerusalem would be assigned to the land given to the Tribe of Benjamin, so there is a duality that comes from that center of Judaism: it sorrows Yahweh that His children worship property more than Him; and, the true soul of Israel is found in His Son that is at His Right Hand. That dual nature says the “nation” or “people” of “Israel” is misconstrued as being land (physical or flesh) and not a spirit (soul married to Yahweh). It says a city becomes the crown jewel of a religion and not a collective soul of people who serve Yahweh as His elohim.

When Paul then wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Hebraios ex Hebraiōn,” or “Hebrew of Hebrews,” this is only read incorrectly as Jews being called “Hebrews.” That name would be because they spoke the language of “Hebrew.” That is the surface meaning, which belies the deeper element that is the truth of capitalization (a divine elevation in meaning). This word means “Passing Over,” which is a word first used to denote Abraham as of divine lineage, relative to Noah. Not everyone related to Noah was divinely elevated to an equal status as Noah. Abraham was one who was said to be a “Hebrew,” because his soul had “Passed Over” as a true descendant spiritually, having come from Noah’s great-grandson (of Shem’s line) “Eber.” Thus, “Hebrew” is relative to the name “Eber.” This name is “connected to the crossing over and the beyond” (Wikipedia), which is soul related … not of the flesh lineage. Thus, for Paul to say, “Hebrew of Hebrews,” this says the man named Saul spoke a language that was taught to Jews to speak; and, the duality says Jews are not given an ability to be “Passed Over” by birth into a body of flesh.

When Paul then said, “according to the law , Pharisee,” that identified the sect of Judaic religion – the philosophy he had held as a Jew – which was that which “Expounded, Divided,” and applied “Science” [the meaning of "Pharisees"] to “the law.” This sect is considered to be of the “Persian School,” which takes an intellectual approach to religion; thus, “Scientists” implies they gain “knowledge through observation.” What you see is what you get; therefore, the Pharisees were literalists when the interpreted the scriptures, especially those of Mosaic Law, which made them only know separate bits of information, without caring how the parts all worked within one grand whole. So, Paul made the claim to the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Philippi that he had been one of the ruling class of Jews – those who (as Herodians) had assumed primary control of the Temple, thus the main philosophy that governed modern (at that time) Judaism.

With that resume stated, Paul then added (in verse six), “as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” That became a waiver from the Temple to judge all Jews within the confines of their “assemblies” or “congregations.” Here, the use of “ekklēsian” gives the wrong impression, when translated as “church.” There was no “Church” (a capitalized phenomenon, like Christianity is known for today), as what Paul was stating he had been given authority to enact was “persecution” of all Jews who gathered together, where the normal place gathered on a Sabbath was in a synagogue, a building designed for such gatherings. In the times of Jesus’ ministry, we commonly read of there being Pharisees in the synagogues where Jesus taught, who would confront him over his philosophies. Saul was then one of the Temple ‘police,’ who had been granted permission to “pursue” anyone not ‘getting with the program’ the Temple carefully crafted. While Paul (as Saul) did that, nothing he did was deemed a sin, based on “the law” being interpreted by “Pharisees.”

When verse seven then shows Paul writing, “Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ,” that gives the false impression that someone external to Paul (named “Christ,’ like the nickname of Jesus) came by and changed Saul’s mind about all the things he thought were “gains,” changing his mind to see what should be thought of as “loss.” Here is the first of six uses of “Christ,” with three of those uses “Christou,” meaning “of Christ,” where possession by “Christ” means “Christ” is a state pf self-being, not anything external. The word written by Paul that aligns with “gains” is “hēgēmai,” which means “I have thought, have supposed, have considered,” to the point that Saul’s mind was so set on his “righteousness” being because of his bloodline (his flesh) that his brain “led” him to think it was a “gain” to “persecute” anyone, while thinking himself to be “blameless.” It was the “Anointment” by Yahweh – the truth of the Greek word “Christo” – that had the soul of Paul know his brain was at the root of all his evils. So, just as he had set this up by writing (his unread comments) about the “dogs of mutilation,” as those who are “evil workers,” the “loss” Paul realized through the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit (the onset of “the Christ”) was that Saul was one of those he warned against. Saul changed his name when he saw how evil he had been, because of his becoming a “Christ.”

In verse eight, Paul wrote that his ability to determine everything about himself that he had deemed worthwhile was not because of “surpassing this knowledge” or “rising above this doctrine” [from “hyperechon tēs gnōseōs”] that came over his brain, as “this wisdom of Christ of Jesus of this of Lord of me”. Here, again, there is a series of capitalized words that appear to be names, with “Christ Jesus” read as one name, as if written on some teacher’s roll log, as “Christ, Jesus.” This becomes where a series of words written in the Genitive case need to be seen as important (from capitalization) elevations of divine meaning that states possession.

Paul can then be seen to speak about “this wisdom, knowing, knowledge, doctrine” (from “gnōseōs”) that is “above” (from “hyperechon” means “rise above, hold above, superior”) his prior ability to think (from “hēgēmai”). This divine elevation is “wisdom” comes to him “of Christ,” or due to the possession by Yahweh’s Spirit over his soul – “of Christ.” This ‘wisdom” can then be related to the soul “of Jesus” having been resurrected within Paul’s soul, because Paul’s soul had married Yahweh’s Spirit, making that resurrection possible. When one can then see the presence “of Jesus” in Paul, such that Jesus was likewise “of Christ,” as the “Anointed” Son of Yahweh, the words “Christ Jesus” say (while still being separately important) that Paul was no longer Saul, because “of Christ of Jesus” being reborn in his body of flesh; so, Paul became Jesus reborn spiritually. Thus, it is “of this” combination resurrection-rebirth that the soul of Saul was no longer the ‘lord” over his flesh (which includes his brain); but the soul “of Jesus” had taken over “of this,” becoming “of Lord” over the new Paul. Paul no longer thought how he should act, as he took commands from his new “Lord Jesus,” who is the epitome “of Christ.” Therefore, “of Jesus of this of Lord of me” is how Paul then identified, knowing everything he once valued was now a shame (calling it “refuse” or “rubbish” – “skybala”) that caused him to change names.

When verse nine then is show beginning to say, “and be found in him,” this makes another false misrepresentation, which projects “of Christ of Jesus of this of Lord of me” as an external “him.” While the Greek word “autō” is a masculine, third-person pronoun, it is also in the possessive. It does not need to be translated as “of him,” as the pronoun equally means “self,” as an indication "of the same.” This means that Paul wrote, “kai heurethō autō,” which importantly says, “I should be found within him,” where this says Paul is “within” the presence “of Christ of Jesus of this of Lord of me,” so all are to be “found within [me] the same.” One for all and all for one.

For Paul to then say this inner presence made it clear to him “not having a righteousness of my own,” as that was only possible by having become reborn as Jesus, “of Christ,” that said memorizing quotes from scripture could never bring one “righteousness.” That says no Jews, nor any Christians today, who think they are going to heaven, because they are “blameless” under “the law” are in for a rude awakening; and, that awakening can only come from marrying Yahweh and giving rebirth to His Son. Therefore, Paul said, “that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.”

To speak of faith (from “pisteōs”), where the root word means “faith, faithfulness,” while implying “belief, trust, confidence; fidelity,” the truth of faith is stated as being “of Christ” (from “Christou”). When one’s brain has been removed from all sense of superiority, the kind that makes oneself think one is capable of interpreting “the law,” that discarding of intelligence means one’s soul has gained the blind faith of guided wisdom. One then knows without thinking. To lower oneself from faith to belief is the mistake Paul knew Saul suffered from. All who think they know what Jesus would do, if he was to come back as “Jesus Christ,” judging the world, then surely he would see how much belief they had in him, while never once thinking one must be the same reborn. Saul suffered from false beliefs; but Paul was saved by the faith that came “of Christ” – Yahweh’s “Anointment.”

The NRSV translates verse ten this way: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” This, once more, makes it appear that Paul wanted to “know” an external entity called “Christ,” with all the words speaking of “resurrection” and “death” bringing up images of Easter Sunday, so the “Christ” must be Jesus. Please do not read this verse that way. Here is what Paul wrote: “of this [faith] to know of the same kai this strength of this resurrection of the same , kai [this] fellowship [of this] sufferings of the same , fashioned self according to this death of the same .” In this series of segments, each ends with the Greek word “autou,” which has been translated as “of the same.” Therefore, everything stated by Paul in verse ten must be seen as his identity having become “of the same” as what is known to be “of Jesus.”

In verse ten there are two uses of “kai,” which is a marker word that states importance to follow that word. In the first use, Paul followed a statement about “faith” being relative to being “the same” as Jesus, having become reborn in his name. That then is importantly indicating “this strength” or “this power-ability” to “know faith” comes from the “resurrection” of the soul of Jesus within Paul’s soul. Then, after a comma mark making a pause to reflect on that thought, Paul next importantly stated there was a “fellowship” that incorporated two souls in one body of flesh; and, that made Paul fully aware of all the “sufferings” Jesus felt, while in his own flesh. This must be seen as “the same sufferings,” not some imaginations of what it must have been like (a function of the brain to think), but knowing how Jesus suffered. Then, that knowledge (coming from the wisdom of faith) meant that Saul figuratively became hung on a cross “to die in the same” way. Saul’s “death” meant Jesus could be born again in another body of flesh, which was then renamed Paul, in his honor.

In verse eleven, Paul says it was from his own death of self-ego and self-worth that the soul of Jesus had been “resurrected” in his flesh. The death was not physical, but the removal of his dependency on the flesh – his brain. Once that blockage to divine marriage was removed – the death of Saul – then his soul could experience the outpouring of Yahweh’s Spirit – divine marriage via the “Christ” or “Anointment” – and receive the Spirit of “resurrection,” where the seed of Yahweh’s Son was planted within Paul’s soul. That is the truth behind the translation that says, “if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” The “if” is the condition of self-sacrifice – “death” – which is “the manner in which” or the “how?” that transformation is possible. Saul had to make the decision. It was not made for him by anyone but himself. His decision was so he “might attain the resurrection” of Jesus’ soul, which was made available for all true Christians by his physical “death,” but for that “resurrection” to meet the preconditions, Saul had to die first, to welcome in the Son of Yahweh.

Verse twelve begins with the capitalized word “Ouch,” which means “Not.” The divine elevation of this word means Paul is stating what is “Not” Yahweh’s purpose in having married with his soul and given rise to His Son in Paul’s soul. The “Not” is then a statement that Paul’s focus on his “already having obtained resurrection” and his “already having been perfected” by the presence of Jesus and the Christ. Once he reached that state of being, the conditional “if” applied to others. Saul would have found such powers brought on by the divine marriage of Yahweh’s Spirit and seen it as reason to flaunt his piety like never before. That was “Not” why Paul was “obtained” and “perfected” by Yahweh. It was for entering ministry so others could seek “to lay hold of that which Paul had laid hold of.” That was why Paul "obtained resurrection" and was "perfected" in the Christ: to lead others to become “of Christ of Jesus.”

In the NRSV socialist translation that begins verse thirteen, they have succumbed to societal pressures and taken the poor old ladies of the world (who men have traumatized … or persecuted as a Soul … for centuries) and transformed divine scripture, so “brothers” now sweetly adds “and sisters.” It comes across so patronizing that it reads as if there should be a footnote that says, “There, there, now ladies. You can see that we speak for Jesus, who (if he were translating the Holy Bible today, then we know he) would say “brothers and sisters.” Now, please remember the Church when you die; so, we will get the bulk of your estate for including you in this erroneous translation.”

To think in terms of men and women is to think in terms of the flesh. Paul, having just said he was in ministry to lead others to be the same as him – dead of self and resurrected in Spirit, reborn as the Son of Yahweh – he was writing to souls in both human sexes that had benefited from Paul’s ministry. Because they had all similarly died of self-will and self-ego, so all had likewise been reborn as Jesus, all “Anointed” by Yahweh as His Sons, the divinely led word that Paul wrote (in Greek) was “adelphoi,” which means “brothers.” Of course, all the flesh loving sinners leading the Churches today want to stroke every penis and every vagina and tell everyone their sins are fine with them, as long as they give to their coffers. When one is wallowing on the plane of fleshy sins, then one disregards the truth of scripture …. as often as possible.

Because Paul addressed all souls who were his “brothers” in “Christ,” all souls led by the masculinity “of Jesus,” Paul then said, “I myself not do consider to have taken hold” [from “egō emauton ou logizomai kateilēphenai”]. That is not Paul speaking, it is Jesus writing those words, which say the “ego” [“I”] and “myself” [where a “self” equals a “soul”] are nothing [“no, not”]. As “brothers” [not boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters] each and all must “not consider to have taken hold” of that old lord over one’s body of flesh. If one starts referring to being a “sister,” then one’s own “I myself” has been “considered to have hold” over one’s identity. The “death” that brings about the “resurrection of Jesus” in one’s soul means the “I myself” is “not” to be “considered” anymore.

Where the NRSV translates Paul writing in verse thirteen: “but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” this too needs an adjustment through a literal translation. The literal says, “one now : they indeed behind overlooking , they now in front of stretching forward .” Here, the first two words say oneness has been achieved, through the sacrifice of a soul in marriage to Yahweh. As two souls (with Jesus resurrected), the souls of those sacrificed (“they”) take a submissive position – “behind” – where the host soul is now “overlooking” the control given to “Lord Jesus,” watching how his presence commands one’s body to act. Then, those souls who have found this position (“they”) wear a face that is different than the one physically displayed by Jesus of Nazareth, so that new face of the flesh is “in front of,” identifying with the control of Jesus making one’s flesh be “stretching forward” or “straining after” all that he commands.

In the last verse of this reading (fourteen), the NRSV shows Paul writing, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” This literally says, “according to mark I pursue towards this prize of this above summoning of this of God within Christ Jesus .” Rather than make this be again externalized, as if Paul heard some “heavenly call of God” out in the distance, which drove him to seek where it was coming from, the truth says Paul is referring to the commands of Jesus within his soul. He was confirming that stated in verse thirteen. So, the “mark aimed for” or the “goal” of Paul was his ever “stretching forward,” to do as he was led to act, with his own soul hoping the desired result (of winning souls to Yahweh) will come. The “prize” is found by those who heed the message Paul took to them, on command of Jesus; so, the “prize achieved (the mark hit) was to whom he wrote in Philippi – more true Christians. Together, all knew the “prize” “of God,” which was “within Christ Jesus.”

As the Epistle selection to be read aloud on the fifth Sunday in Lent, when the test of commitment to Yahweh is ongoing in one’s life, the lesson here has Paul speaking of the dangers of being misled into believing one’s soul is safe and secure, by external religious standards, as measured by philosophers. We are all asked to see ourselves as Saul, who thought he was the best human being possible, when he was a total failure in the eyes of God. The religions of Judaism and Christianity are both fallen far from their target goals, which is to bring lost souls to find the need to marry Yahweh and be saved … as His Son reborn. As the last Sunday in Lent, when one is about to embark on a path of ministry (should one pass the Lenten test), one needs to know self-sacrifice for a higher cause. None of this is about self. It is all about sacrifice of self, so Yahweh can use your body of flesh to resurrect His Son on earth, to seek lost souls to save.

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