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: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
As human beings, we have a tendency to trust in the flesh. It is the natural order of things on this earth. I learn to trust in my own strength, my knowledge, me reasoning, my speed, my stamina. I am brought up as a child and told to develop these things so I can be successful. In school, we are taught physical education, sports, the basic skills we need to survive – all related to our fleshly ability. We develop friendships that typically are with people who are similar in fleshly ability. And if we are really good at something, we are encouraged to enhance that area of our lives, whether it be sports or smarts. It’s all about the flesh!
When we start to look for work, especially if we go to college, we have to put together a resume that tells others about our skills and attributes, and how they pertain to the job we are seeking. This shows our “confidence in the flesh” and lets the reader know if we are qualified for the job or not.
Paul puts together a brief resume here in verses 4-6, and it’s a pretty impressive one. Let’s look at it piece by piece:
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin. First, Paul was an Israelite. He had gone through the ritual of circumcision, and was from the tribe of Benjamin. He was not just some guy running around telling stories about Jesus. He was brought up Hebrew, and knew the scriptures from early on in life. This goes to heritage.
“As touching the law, a Pharisee.” The Pharisees were the top of spiritual ladder in Israel. They were steeped in the law and tradition. They were the keepers of the law and they were charged with making sure everyone else keep the law as well. To be a Pharisee meant you had studied, and studied, and studied some more, the laws of Moses and the laws since made, and you lived a life that conformed to those laws.
“Concerning zeal, persecuting the churches.” We have to remember that the Pharisees saw the Church of Jesus as he enemy. Jesus had attacked their traditions, and they felt threatened by the very existence of the church. They believed it to be blasphemy. Paul (then Saul) was commissioned by the Pharisees to put church goers and leaders in prison – He was a zealot against the church.
“touching the righteousness that is within the law, blameless. He kept the law in its entirety, and felt He had an upstanding relationship with God because of it.
This was Paul’s fleshly resume, and in those days, it was a mighty good one. Very few men could boast a better resume. And what did Paul think of it now that He was swerving Jesus? You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find that out.