Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men (and women) to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
It’s difficult saying goodbye to something you love, whether that is a person, place, or thing. I’m certain all those who have more than a few years behind them would agree.
For more than twelve years I’ve poured my heart and soul into Home Bible Study©, but due to personal reasons it’s time to let it go. After May 31, 2019, no new Bible lessons will be published. Whether this is permanent or merely a hiatus of undetermined length, I don’t know. I’ve pre-paid the website, so it should remain accessible for a year give or take a month. There are more than 500 Bible lessons at your disposal, so please continue visiting the site. When my subscription ends, however, I believe the website will end.
I apologize for the abruptness of this announcement but to help fill the void I have listed a few recommendations for y’all. All these gentlemen teach the Bible, rightly divided, as per God’s command (2 Timothy 2:15). You’re in good hands with whomever you choose:
Les Feldick - LesFeldick.org (teaches the Bible verse-by-verse so you can pick up right where we left off at his user-friendly website).
Pastor Kevin Hobbs - ButNowFellowship.com or via YouTube
Pastor Richard Jordan - Graceimpact.org or ShorewoodBibleChurch.org
Pastor Russ Hargettt - SuncoastBible.com
Philippians 3:4 – (L 27)
In Philippians 3:1- 4:1, our Apostle Paul warns the Philippian Believers to be wary of dogs, evil workers, and the concision or their adversaries. Why? Judaizers were attacking both Paul’s apostolic authority and the gospel of grace (3:1-2).
Last week, in verse 3:3, Paul identified the true circumcison:
“For we (all those who have been baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit) are the circumcison, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
One of the things we learned is the Israelites took God’s command to be circumcised to the extreme. By that I mean to say their religious system, and the rite of circumcision became a false idol. The Jews placed their trust in their religious system and their heritage. They named Abraham as their father and were proud of it:
We find the Lord Jesus Christ addressing their misguided mindset in John 8:44-45:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have done Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 9-25; Galatians 3:6-14).
Our Apostle Paul faced the same opposition, i.e. the Pharisees (Acts 15; Romans 6:14). In Romans 2:25 Paul told his countrymen “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision” (1 Corinthians 7:19).
If you opt to place yourself under the law in order to please God, you must keep the whole law perfectly and history shows no human can achieve success with that plan. This book holds up the nation of Israel as an example of this truth. The Jews had superior privileges which should have produced a corresponding lifestyle. They should have lived differently than the world, but that didn’t happen. They partnered with the world, causing the name of Jehovah to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:23-24). In addition, their circumcision is made uncircumcision, proving adhering to religious rituals without the reality of personal devotion to God, and obedience to His expressed will amounts to “nothing.”
Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:4-6.
“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: Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in law; blameless.”
Paul previously said the true circumcision has “no confidence in the flesh,” so what’s he saying now? In expectation of an argument from his opposition, he listed some of his religious credentials as a challenge to all those who are trusting in religion to make themselves right with God. To make his point he reflects on his former life, when he too was “outside of Christ Jesus.” To refute the opposing argument of the Judaizers that there is saving value in their religious distinctions, Paul will show (from his own experience) what he had considered gain, he now considers “dung” (3:7-8).
Simply said, Paul’s challenge is this – lay your religious credentials alongside mine and then we’ll see who has the better resume!
If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (3:4a) – let’s look at Paul’s statement in Galatians 1:11-14:
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation (conduct) in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Saul/Paul sincerely believed he was serving the LORD in “persecuting the church of God.” (Acts 8:35-38). Paul’s referring to the kingdom church prophesied in the O.T. and not the Body of Christ (Acts 9; Ephesians 5:32). It’s plain to see the O.T. Prophetic Program is still in effect after the Lord’s ascension into heaven. The Temple of the LORD is open for business and we find Peter and others going up to the Temple to pray at the assigned hour. All the Jewish Feast Days are still being observed. Nothing has changed, including the condition of their hearts.
FYI: People generally agree there are seven dispensations marked off in Scripture (Ephesians 3:2). Each new dispensation denotes a change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, or portions of mankind, in respect to #1: sin; and #2: man’s obligation in a given dispensation. Therefore, each dispensation may be regarded as a “new test” of the natural man (1 Corinthians 15:4-6), and each one ends with man’s failure to obey God’s commands bringing about His judgment. We are presently living in the Dispensation of Grace, a parenthetical period of time, kept hidden in the mind of God since before the foundations of the earth. This administration was not made known to man until the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the very first member of the Body of Christ (Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26),
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Since the Church Age didn’t begin until the apostle Paul was called by the risen Lord in Acts 9, it stands to reason the church did not begin with the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:18 or in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost.
So, Saul/Paul profited in the Jews religious system above many others. He was “sold out,” as they say, for the “traditions of (his) fathers.” I can relate and perhaps some of you might as well. I grew up in a works-based religious system that has been around for centuries. From generation to generation we too passed on our traditions and basked in them. We had our own feast days and our own set of religious rules and practices that set us apart. I remember people commenting on how beautiful it was. However, this doing and not doing, or keeping these religious rules and practices, didn’t change how God viewed us one little bit. All these religious exercises amounted to “nothing” in the eyes of God (Romans 8:7).
The Bible clearly states Salvation is of God and to the glory of God (alone) we contribute not one thing (Ephesians 2:8-10):
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles (2 Timothy 1:8-11).
Your salvation is determined by what you do or don’t do with Paul’s gospel below:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 2:16).
Now you don’t have to be a seminary graduate to understand this Bible passage and that’s how God intended it. We have the written Word of God because He desires everyone “to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). The truth is, on your best day you can’t keep God’s commandments, so trusting in self will not get the job done. This is what Paul said in verse 3:4, having just said in verse 3:3 true Believers have “no confidence in the flesh,” that is, things they do or don’t do, including one’s religious achievements. Paul shows us if that were possible, he’s ahead of the pack, “being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
In verses 3:5-6 Paul provided a list of his religious credentials which began in infancy:
“Circumcised the eight day” (5a) – if you’ve been with us for past two weeks, then you know what this means to the nation of Israel. For those of you who are new I’ll take the time to explain. The Lord God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and gave him a list of things he needed to do for Him in Genesis 17, after explaining all He would do for Abraham and his descendants under the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). One of these responsibilities was the rite of circumcison. The Hebrew male child, 8 days old (not seven days and not nine days old) underwent a physical operation to remove their foreskin. This religious rite was enforced later by the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 12:3). Paul’s saying, he was a child of this everlasting covenant. Let’s be clear, this religious practice could not save anyone, but it gave those who were obedient the opportunity to be saved. I liken this to a child raised in a faith-based home. Who’s more likely to be saved the child of believing parents or the child raised in a home without Jesus Christ? There is a distinct advantage here that should not be overlooked.
“of the stock of Israel” (5a) – Paul was not born into any nation; he said he is numbered with the chosen nation of Israel. In times past, Israel held prominence over all the nations. The LORD God channeled all His earthly blessings through the Israelites which included “the covenants,” “the oracles of God,” “the promises,” the adoption,” etc. (Romans 3:2, 9:4).
“of the tribe of Benjamin” (5a) – I’m assuming y’all know the nation of Israel is made up of 12 tribes. There was a time in Israel’s history when they were not one. According to the Bible, King David reigned over a large territory and his son Solomon over an even larger section of land. After the death of Solomon, the nation was divided in two. The Southern Kingdom consisted only of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom consisted of the ten remaining tribes and was called Israel. Their initial capitals were at Shechem and Tirzah. King Omri established his capital at Samaria, where it remained. The Northern Kingdom departed from the LORD God and gave themselves over to worshipping gentile idols. But the Southern Kingdom proved to be more spiritual re: the things of the LORD. Eventually, they too wandered into apostasy, even after the LORD continued to channel His blessings through the tribe of Benjamin and Judah during their captivities. Jerusalem eventually fell to the Babylonian Empire and was destroyed circa 586 B.C.
The tribe of Benjamin had a special place in the nation of Israel. Benjamin was the child of Rachel, the well-loved wife of Jacob, and of all the twelve patriarchs, he alone had been born in the Promised Land (Genesis 35:17-18). It was from the tribe of Benjamin that the first king of Israel had come (1 Samuel 9:1-2), and it was no doubt from that very king that Paul had been given his original name of Saul. When, under Rehoboam, the kingdom had been split up, ten of the tribes went off with Jeroboam, and Benjamin was the only tribe which remained faithful with Judah (1 Kings 12:21). When they returned from the exile, it was from the tribes of Benjamin and Judah that the nucleus of the reborn nation was formed (Ezra 4:1). The tribe of Benjamin had the place of honor in Israel's battle-line, so that the battle-cry was: "After thee, O Benjamin!" (Judges 5:14; Hosea 5:8). The great feast of Purim, which was observed every year with such rejoicing, commemorated the deliverance of which the Book of Esther tells, and the central figure of that story was Mordecai, a Benjaminite. When Paul stated that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, it was a claim that he was not simply an Israelite but that he belonged to an elite tribe of Israel.
An Hebrew of the Hebrews (5b) – here Paul refers to his family’s social status. Apparently, his family was well connected socially, politically, religiously, and monetarily. Everything that floats most people’s boat today, wouldn’t you say? Seemingly, Paul had everything a man could desire, but there’s more. In addition to everything else he was educated by Gamaliel an esteemed doctor of the law (Acts 22:3-In referring to himself as “an Hebrew of the Hebrews,” Paul is saying his family tree held many examples of men who held positions of authority in the Jews religious system.
As touching the law, a Pharisee (5b) – there were three religious’ factions in Paul’s day: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. The most important group was the Pharisees. Their distinguishing characteristic was a belief in the Oral Law the LORD gave Moses at Sinai along with the Torah, or written Law. The Pharisees also maintained an after-life existed; these things as well as others set them apart.
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church (6a) – this is usually where people trip themselves up over what God has clearly revealed in this book. The church Paul refers to here is not the Body of Christ of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head.
You won’t find language like that in the O.T. which includes the four gospels. You only find it in Paul’s epistles. However, people are in the habit of taking what God said to His chosen people, the Jews, and including the Body of Christ, but that would be an error. Here Paul speaks of the kingdom church. We could take the time to study this subject, but it would take many lessons to do it justice. Suffice to say, the kingdom church and the Body of Christ, a.k.a, the mystery program, are two separate plans purposed by God. We are not to combine them; something the Scriptures make clear (read Acts 15; Galatians 2:9). Saul of Tarsus believed Jesus was an imposter. He did not believe the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Consequently, he persecuted the kingdom church, i.e. followers of “the way,” with religious fervor, and in doing so believed he was performing God’s will (Acts 9:1-2, 22:19-20).
Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (6b) – Paul is not saying he was without sin – blameless. He is saying when he did commit sin he brought the proper sacrifice to atone for his sin, in accordance with the ceremonial law. Outwardly, no one can point the finger of shame at Paul. He was a model Jew, an example, in other words. Paul is not claiming perfection. The demands of the law didn't touch the heart, again it wasn’t much more than religious exercise. The Lord Jesus Christ addresses this concern in the Sermon of the Mount. Adultery was not just the act; it was a matter of the heart. Not only should you not murder, Jesus Christ say you shouldn't even hate. Hatred itself violated God’s command not to murder. So, outwardly, Paul had done it all but, inwardly, he remained an unsaved sinner.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:14-25).
It’s been my pleasure to serve y’all these past twelve years. I pray you will continue to study your Bible, rightly divided, of course, to mature in the faith and to help those who are struggling to comprehend what is truth and what is not.
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