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Philippians 3:5– In relation to law a Pharisee

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, in relation to law a Pharisee

The term Pharisee has no good reputation in our language. It is synonymous with hypocrite. This meaning has mainly been given by the lashing speech of Jesus in Matthew 23. Seven times there sounds “woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”. But remember, that speech is not an indictment against the party of the Pharisees, but against their practice of “talking the talk but not walking the walk” (Matthew 23:3).

Paul had been educated at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a prominent Pharisee (Acts 5:34) and grandson of the famous Hillel. Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees explicitly believed in resurrection, angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). In the Sanhedrin, Paul plainly testified, “I, a Pharisee, am the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6).

Paul’s calling himself “a Pharisee according to the law” in Philippi 3, further confirms his genuine, Jewish identity. He was excellently ‘pre-sorted’. This is because the party of the Pharisees was generally regarded as “the most strict party of our religion” (Acts 26:5). As far as the interpretation of the law is concerned, Saul was emphatically not a Sadducee, just as Jesus was not (cf. Matthew 22:34!). He believed in resurrection…