3:1 Finally, 1 my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. 2 To write the a same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe.
(1) A conclusion of those things which have been said before, that is, that they go forward cheerfully in the Lord. (2) A preface to the next admonition that follows, to take good heed and beware of false apostles, who join circumcision with Christ, (that is to say, justification by works, with free justification by faith), and beat into mens head the ceremonies which are abolished, instead of true exercises of godliness and charity. And he calls them dogs, as profane barkers, and evil workmen, because they neglected true works and did not teach the true use of them. To be short, he calls them concision, because in urging circumcision, they cut off themselves and others from the Church. 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the b concision.
(a) Which you have often times heard from me.
(b) He alludes to circumcision; and while they were boasting in it, they broke apart the Church. 3:3 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence c in the flesh.
(3) He shows that we ought to use true circumcision, that is, the circumcision of the heart, so that by cutting off all wicked affections by the power of Christ, we may serve God in purity of life. 3:4 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
(c) In outward things which do not at all pertain to the soul.
(4) He does not doubt to prefer himself even according to the flesh, before those perverse zealous urgers of the Law, that all men may know that he does with good judgment of mind, consider of little worth all of those outward things. For he who has Christ lacks nothing, and confidence in our works cannot stand with the free justification in Christ by faith. 3:7 But what things were d gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
(d) Which I considered as gain. 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count e all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may f win Christ,
(e) He shuts out all works, those that go before, as well as those that come after faith. 3:9 And be found in g him, h not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
(f) That in their place I might get Christ, and from a poor man become rich, so far am I from losing anything at all.
(g) In Christ: for those that are found outside of Christ are subject to condemnation. 3:10 5 That I may i know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the 6 fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
(h) That is, to be in Christ, to be found not in a mans own righteousness, but clothed with the righteousness of Christ imputed to him.
(5) This is the end of righteousness by faith with regard to us, that by the power of his resurrection we may escape from death. 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the k resurrection of the dead.
(i) That I may indeed feel him, and have an experience of him. (6) The way to that eternal salvation is to follow Christs steps by afflictions and persecutions, until we come to Christ himself, who is our mark at which we aim, and receive that reward to which God calls us in him. And the apostle sets these true exercises of godliness against those vain ceremonies of the Law, in which the false apostles put the sum of godliness.
(k) To everlasting life, which follows the resurrection of the saints. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am l apprehended of Christ Jesus.
(l) For we run only as far forth as we are laid hold on by Christ, that is, as God gives us strength, and shows us the way. 3:15 7 Let us therefore, as many as be m perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
(7) The conclusion of this exhortation standing upon three members: the first is, that those who have profited in the truth of this doctrine should continue in it. The second is, that if there are any who are yet ignorant and do not understand these things, and who doubt of the abolishing of the Law, they should cause no trouble, and should be gently waited for, until they also are instructed by the Lord. The third is, that they judge the false apostles by their fruits: in which he does not doubt to set forth himself as an example. 3:18 8 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ:
(m) He said before that he was not perfect. So that in this place he calls those perfect who have somewhat profited in the knowledge of Christ and the Gospel, whom he sets against the rude and ignorant, as he himself expounds in ( Philippians 3:16 ).
(8) He shows what the false apostles truly are, not from malice or ambition, but with sorrow and tears, that is, because being enemies of the Gospel (for that is joined with persecuting it) they regard nothing else, but the benefits of this life: that is to say, that abounding in peace, and quietness, and all worldly pleasures, they may live in great estimation among men, whose miserable end he forewarned them of. 3:19 Whose n end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] o glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
(n) Reward. 3:20 9 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
(o) Which they hunt after from mens hands.
(9) He sets against these fellows true pastors who neglect earthly things, and aspire to heaven only, where they know that even in their bodies they will be clothed with that eternal glory, by the power of God.