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Philippians 3:5– In its purest form

28-02-2023 - Posted by Hans

In circumcision the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews…

The enumeration we find here and in the next verse Paul does not give because he is proud of it. On the contrary, he now considers his religious resume as “damage” instead of “gain” (3:7). Paul’s listing of his religious qualifications is to show that what his opponents claim is nothing in his eyes

The Judaizers (= those who try to Judaize believers from the nations ; cf. Gal.2:14) pretended to be circumcised. Very good, says Paul, but I was “circumcised on the eighth day “, so as it was originally prescribed. Which of his opponents could repeat that? They were not usually native Israelites. I am, says Paul, “of the race of Israel.” I even know my family tree: “from the tribe of Benjamin”. Paul was also a “Hebrew”, that is, Jewish in the purest form and not a ‘Greekized’ or ‘Helenized’ variant of it (see Acts 6:1). And that for generations, and hence “Hebrew of Hebrews”.

Paul’s opponents could not match his Jewish identity. He was born and raised in Judaism when they were just ‘imports’. Did they now feel they had to ‘export’ their diluted ‘Jewish identity’ to the nations?