“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.”

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh.”
Literally:  “Even though I also might have trust in flesh.”–The Greek here is, literally, “although I {was} having confidence in the flesh.”

         The meaning is, that he had every ground of confidence in the flesh which any one could have, and that if there was any advantage for salvation to be derived from such birth, blood lineage, and external conformity to the Law, he possessed it all.  In fact, he exceeded all such qualifications.  He told these Judaizers, “Though I had uncommon advantages of this kind; and if anyone could have trusted in them I could have done it.” If any of them have any cause to boast in outward rites and privileges, I have as much; yea, more.”
         Though Paul had uncommon advantages of this kind; if anyone could have trusted in them, he could have done it. The object of Paul’s is to show that he did not despise those things because he did not possess them, but because he now saw that they were of no value in the great matter of salvation. Previously he had confided in them; and if anyone could find any ground of reliance on them, he could have found more than any of them. But he had seen that all these things were valueless in regard to the salvation of the soul.

         They who have been most amiable and moral, before their conversion, will speak in the most decided manner of the insufficiency of these things for salvation, and of the danger of relying on them. They have once tried this way to salvation, and they now see that their feet were standing on a slippery rock. Paul had more to rely on than most other men had; in fact, he could have boasted of advantages of this sort which could not be found united in any other individual. What these advantages were he proceeds to specify.

                 CONFIDENCE (Grk.-pepoithēsin)–Literally: “trust.” That is, as well as in Christ.

In a clear and straightforward challenge to these Judaistic legalists, Paul now sets forth a bit of his preconversion past hoping to silence them somewhat.  He has been warning the Philippians against legalism; now begins to give his own testimony of his deliverance from confidence in the flesh.  He had been a most devout student of Judaism and was very familiar with the teachings of the Mosaic Law, and he had been most zealous about all its teachings and applications before his conversion on the road to Damascus.  Because of this he was in a position to speak most emphatically on this subject.  He gives out five-fold reasons as to why trusting in the flesh should be rejected.       

“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, and Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”

REASON #1:  Confidence in Ceremonialism

“Circumcised the eighth day,”
Literally:  “in circumcision {the} eight day”– This was the time that the Law required the males to be circumcised; and we find, from Gen. 17:14, both in the Samaritan Pentateuch and in the  Septuagint 

         Although the clause is now lost out of the common Hebrew text, that the male child, which is not circumcised the eighth day, shall be cut off from among his people: this precept was literally observed in the case of Paul.  It may even be possible that many of these Judaizers could not have boasted of this, for it may even be that some of them were Gentiles who had converted to Judaism and had been circumcised as adults.
         Paul begins his list by first citing the item that the Judaizers were most concerned about:  circumcision.  He was circumcised in exact compliance with the Law. If there was any ground of confidence from such compliance with the law, he had it. The Law required that circumcision should be performed on the eighth day, (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3; Luke 1:59); but it is probable that, in some cases, this was delayed on account of sickness, or from some other cause; and, in the case of proselytes, it was not performed until adult age (see Acts 16:3).  But Paul says that in his case, the Law had been literally complied with; and, consequently, all the advantage which could be derived from such a compliance was his.
          As faithful Jews, Paul’s parents had fulfilled this commandment given to Abraham.  Thus, if anyone had a right to claim the benefits of circumcision, Paul did.  By claiming circumcision on the eighth day he was emphasizing that he was not a late convert to Judaism but was born and raised in it.  In this he was exceeding the claims of his Judaizer detractors who may have embraced Judaism in their later or mature years, or might be descendants of those who had done so.   He is also making it clear that he is not an Ishmaelite, (descendent of Ishmael, i.e., an arab) for they were circumcised in their thirteenth year (Gen. 17:25).

REASON #2:  Confidence in Race

“of the stock of Israel, {of the} tribe of Benjamin”
Literally:  “Of the race of Israel, of {the} tribe of Benjamin.”–Descended from the patriarch Israel, or Jacob; and, therefore, able to trace his genealogy back as far as any Jew could.

           Paul is declaring that he was not himself a proselyte from among the heathen (as many of the Judaizers may have been), nor were any of his ancestors proselytes. He had all the advantages which could be derived from a regular descent from the venerable founders of the Jewish nation. He was thus distinguished from many, even among the Jews, whose ancestors had once been Gentiles, and who had become proselytes.
         The Jews were proud of their descent from Abraham, Issac and Jacob and looked down their noses on any that could not claim this lineage.  Some felt this automatically gave them salvation before God.  If anyone had the right to claim such a thing, Paul said he could justify such confidence in the flesh as he was, “of the stock (race) of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.”

         By declaring that he was “a  Hebrew of the Hebrews.” Paul was really giving his detractors a slap in the face.  Many of the Jews had adopted the Greek language and Greek customs (i.e., had become “Hellenized”) but Paul was educated in and knew the old Hebrew language and customs.  No one could put himself above Paul in this regard.

        TRIBE OF BENAMIN: (Grk.–phulēs Beniamin)–Benjamin (which means,  “son at the father’s right hand”) was the most favorite son of that patriarch Jacob (Israel) and a tribe that did not revolt with Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:21, nor pollute the worship of God by idolatry.

         Even going beyond the claim of race, Paul points out that he is from one of the better tribes—the tribe of Benjamin, which, along with Judah, had stood somewhat faithful to the Law after the division of the kingdom.  If the principles supporting what the Judaizers were advocating, Paul was far ahead of them.
         When the ten tribes revolted under Jeroboam,       Benjamin was one of the two tribes which remained with the tribe of Judah and ever afterwards maintained its allegiance to God. The idea of Paul is, that he was not one of the revolted tribes, but that he had as high a claim to the honor of being a Jew as anyone could boast. The
Tribe of Benjamin was also located near the temple, and indeed it has been said that the temple was on the dividing line between that tribe and the Tribe of Judah.  It might have been supposed among the Jews that there was some advantage in securing salvation from having been born and reared so near where the holy rites of religion were celebrated. If there had been any such advantage derived from the proximity of the tribe to the temple, he could claim it; for though his birth was in another place, yet he was a member of the tribe.

REASON #3:  Confidence in the Mosaic Law

“touching the Law, a Pharisee;”
Literally: “According to Law, a Pharisee.” One that not only received the Law and the prophets as coming from God; but belonged to that sect which, of all others, was most scrupulously attached to it    In effect, Paul is really saying,. “In my views of the law, and in my manner of observing it, I was of the straightest sect–a Pharisee” (Acts 26:5).

           The Pharisees were distinguished for their rigid adherence to the letter of the Law, and had endeavored to guard it from the possibility of violation by throwing around it a vast body of traditions which they considered to be equally binding with the written law (Matt. 3:7). The Sadducees were much less strict; and Paul here says, that whatever advantage could be derived from the most rigid adherence to the letter of the law was his.
         The word Pharisee means “Separated Ones.”  There were really not many Pharisees; only about 6000 of them all told, but they were really what one could call the “spiritual athletes” of Judaism.  They had separated themselves from all common life and from all common tasks in order to make it the one aim of their lives to keep every smallest detail of the Law.  In fact, they had even added minute detail-after detail to the Law, making it so complicate so that only they really knew what it contained.
        When it came to observing the Mosaic Law as a principle of action for the Christian, Paul is showing that he was not only a learned in the Law, but that he also belonged to the strictest Jewish sect, the Pharisees, and was not only familiar with the Law itself, but also with all the traditions related to it. In observance of the Law as essential to confidence in the flesh, Paul shows that he was far superior to the Judaizers

“Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blameless."

REASON #4:  Confidence in Personal Achievements

“Concerning zeal, persecuting the church;”
Literally:  “According to zeal persecuting the church.”–Paul is saying, “As to my zeal for Pharisaism, I gave the fullest proof of it by persecuting the Church of Christ; and this is known to all my countrymen. Showing the greatness of my zeal for the religion which I believed to be true, by persecuting those whom I considered to be in dangerous error.”

           Zeal was supposed to be an important part of Judaism (see II Kings 10:16; Psa. 69:9; 119:139; Isa. 59:17; Rom. 10:2), and Paul’s record included an active zeal.  He  says that he had shown the highest degree of zeal that was possible. He had gone so far in his attachment for the religion of his fathers as to pursue, with purposes of death, those who had departed from it, and who had embraced a different form of belief. In fact, it was this fanatical zeal that was the reason he was on his way to Damascus when he was struck down by the Lord ()Acts 9:1-2). If any, therefore, could hope for salvation on the ground of extraordinary devotedness to religion, he said that he could.
         Whatever Paul set his mind to do, he went at it “full steam ahead.”  He was what we would call in today’s vernacular, an “in your face” type of person.  There is iron in his boasting expressed in saying, “concerning zeal, persecuting the church.”  The implication seems to be that the Judaizers who were persecuting him were weaklings, or “pikers,” in comparison to what he had done when he was persecuting the church.  In this, he far exceeded the Judaizing teachers, and his record was better than theirs. 

        ZEAL:  (Grk.–zēlos)–To Jews, zeal was the greatest quality in their religious life.  A burning zeal for God was the hallmark of the Jewish religion. 

Phinehas had saved the people from the wrath of God, and have been an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for God (Num. 25:11-13).  In Psa. 69:9 we read, “For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up…”  Paul had been such a zealous Jew that he had tried to wipe out the church which he considered to be the opponent of Judaism, and this was something he would never forget.  Again and again he would speak of it (Acts 22:2-21; 26:4:23; I Cor. 15:8-10; Gal. 1:13). 

REASON #5:  Confidence in Personal Rightousness

“touching the righteousness which is in the Law, being blameless."
Literally:  “According to righteousness in {the} Law, blameless.” So far as the righteousness which can be obtained by obeying the Law is concerned, it is not needful to suppose here that he refers merely to the Ceremonial Law;  but the meaning is, that he did all that could be done to obtain salvation by the mere observance of law.

         It was supposed by the Jews, and especially by the Pharisees, that it was possible to be saved in that way; and Paul says that he had done all that was supposed to be necessary for that. We are to imagine that, his conversion, he supposed that he had done all that was necessary to be done in order to be saved by the observance of Law. He neglected no duty that he understood it to require.  He was not guilty of deliberately violating it. He led a moral and strictly upright life, and no one had occasion to “blame” or to accuse him as a violator of the law of God.
         There is every reason to believe that Paul, before his conversion, was a young man of correct deportment, of upright life, of entire integrity; and that he was free from the indulgences of vice and passion, into which young men often fall. In all that he ever says of himself as being “the chief of sinners,” and as being “unworthy to be called an apostle,” he never gives the least intimation that his early life was stained by vice, or corrupted by licentious passions. On the contrary, we are left to the fair presumption that if any man could be saved by his own works, he was that man. This fact should be allowed to make its proper impression on those who are seeking salvation in the same way; and they should be willing to inquire whether they may not be deceived in the matter, as he was, and whether they are not in as much real danger in depending on their own righteousness, as was this most upright and zealous young man.

         Paul is telling them that plan of justification, which the Jews say is to be obtained by an observance of the Law, “I have done everything so conscientiously from my youth up, that in this respect I am blameless; and may, with more confidence than most of them; expect that justification which the law appears to promise.”  If salvation were based on a person’s birth into the right family or keeping the Law or on zeal for the Law, Paul had nothing to worry about.  But it still took his faith in Christ alone for his salvation and justification. Paul is a prime example that salvation is not obtained by his good works or things a person does, or by his sincerity, but only by placing faith in Christ Jesus as one’s own personal Savior.

           BLAMELESS: (Grk.–amemptos)—Literally: “having become blameless” as to ceremonial righteousness: having attained in the eyes of man blameless legal perfection. As to  holiness before God, which is the inner and truest spirit of the law, and which flows from “the righteousness of God by faith,” he on the contrary declares (vv. 12-14) that he has not attained perfection.      

         The Greek word amemptos comes from the verb  (memphesthai) , which means, “to blame for sins of omission.”  Putting the Greek letter “a” in front of the word negates the word (puts in the negative sense).  Paul claims that there was no demand of the Law which he did not fulfill.”  Not only had he applied the Law rigorously to others, but he himself had observed even its fine points.  He probably was more faithful in this than the Jews who were criticizing him, even though this left him dissatisfied, which led him to conclude in Rom. 7:24:  “O wretched man that I am!”  The Law properly applied and interpreted could only bring condemnation, not release from guilt; but if righteousness could be obtained through the Law, Paul would certainly have had it. 
           What Paul has been doing to these Judaizers is to rub their noses into his own qualifications.  He has been saying, “Put your requirements where you mouth is.  Here are mine, now let me see yours.”  If anyone could have been justified by serving the Law it was Paul; but he was not.  It was only by faith in Christ that he was justified.  Justification by Faith was always Paul’s message.