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 TEXT:  Philippians 3:4-6

TOPIC:  Pedigree

Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point

January 21, 2007

(Background for this sermon and portions of the outline come from Lehman Strauss's Devotional Commentary on Philippians, pages 74-104)

4though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

          This is one of those Bible passages that after you’ve read it you wonder what possible message can come from these verses. 

          For one thing we need to remember who wrote it, to whom it was written and why.  The writer was the Apostle Paul writing to the Philippian Christians who were frequently troubled by a heretical group called Judaistic legalizers.  These people had been insisting that in order to be saved, one must keep the Mosiac law in addition to his faith in Christ.

          And here’s where its important, in order to refute this belief of works and faith, Paul appeals to his own pedigree of a pre-converted life.  Paul seeks to show them that if there is any acceptance with God from the standpoint of the Jew’s religion, he himself would surely have obtained it.

          Like the Judaizers of Paul’s day, there are those among us today who will say salvation by grace through faith alone is not enough.  What else is needed?  The works of man or as Paul described in verse 4, confidence in the flesh.


          Paul refers to seven aspects of his association with the Jewish religion.  Before we examine Paul’s pedigree it might be helpful to keep before us his testimony in verse 7.

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7

1.     PRIDE IN RITUAL, Philippians 3:5, circumcised the eighth day….


Paul did not come into Judaism later in life as a Gentile proselyte.  It was by divine appointment.  He was born a Jew. 

The O.T. Covenant (Abrahamic) required that each male born into a Jewish family was to be circumcised.  Genesis 17:10-12, 10“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11“and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12“He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations,


Other N.T. examples of Zacharias bringing John the Baptist for circumcision on the “eighth day,” (Luke 1:59) and Joseph and Mary bringing Jesus to the temple to be circumcised on the eighth day, (Luke 2:21) also depict the practice of this covenant.

This act of circumcision was an act of obedience to the Law and a rite of which to be proud.  Yet Paul said,

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


          Many unsaved people today are leaning hard on the fact that they were sprinkled as an infant, (work of the flesh, or putting confidence in the flesh), or some boast on their confirmation by some denomination or church, (a work of the flesh).  These are trusting in these works just as Saul of Tarsus at one point leaned on his circumcision.  None of these things will get us to heaven, only faith in Christ alone. 

2.     PRIDE IN RELATIONSHIP, Philippians 3:5, of the stock of Israel….


Paul could trace his ancestry back to the Patriarch Jacob.  He had a bloodline that was pure Jew.

But it is not the blood of man’s ancestry that saves him and cleanses him from sin, but the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son.

12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

          The grace of God does not flow through human veins.

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


3.     PRIDE IN RESPECTABILITY, Philippians 3:5, of the tribe of Benjamin….

The tribe of Benjamin was known for its unwavering support for the throne of David when the ten tribes separated to divide the kingdom.

Respectability is a noble trait in any family but it will never put a sinner in good standing with God.

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


4.     PRIDE IN RACE, Philippians 3:5, a Hebrew of Hebrews;

Paul again traces his pedigree to the first Hebrew, Abraham himself.  There was never a mingling with Gentile blood in his family.  His father and his mother were pure Jews.  Paul was proud of his Jewish background. 

     But with all his racial position and pride, Saul was a lost soul until he came face to face with Jesus Christ.

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7

          Being an American, living in a “Christian country,” does not make us right with God.

5.     PRIDE IN RELIGION, Philippians 3:5, concerning the law, a Pharisee;

H.A. Ironside, “Of the various Jewish sects existing in his day, the Pharisees were the most intensely orthodox.”

     One might be devoutly sincere in his religious beliefs, and at the same time be sincerely wrong.  The world has in it many people who were proud of their religion until they met Jesus Christ.  Then, like Paul, they saw the utter foolishness of holding to some tradition that was unable to save them from their sins.

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


6.     PRIDE IN REPUTATION, Philippians 3:6, concerning zeal, persecuting the church;

Everyone who knew Saul of Tarsus knew how devoted he was to the Jew’s religion and how intent he was in stopping the spread of Christianity. 

We too may have a reputation for standing against social or moral injustices, but reputation alone does not justify us.

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 7:21-23


7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


7.     PRIDE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, Philippians 3:6, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless

Paul was such a man who carried righteousness by works of the law so far that he was considered blameless.

The rich young ruler thought he had done the same.

Paul was an excellent example of a Jew who was ritually, respectably, racially, religiously, reputably, and righteously correct in the eyes of all his peers, yet he says:

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7


Paul understood Isaiah’s preaching, But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;

Isaiah 64:6

          Paul would later write,

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

          Do you know the righteousness that is in Christ through faith alone?  Do you understand today that it is not your spiritual pedigree that saves you, but the power of God’s grace through faith in His only Son Jesus Christ?

          Heads are bowed and eyes are closed please.  (Call for the unsaved to place their faith in Christ alone.)

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