1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in [your relationship to] the Lord. It does not trouble me to write the same things to you again, because you will be safer if I do. [Note: These "same things" may refer to warnings against false teachers which Paul had either spoken to them or written about previously].
2 Watch out for the "dogs!" [Note: "Dogs" were viewed with disgust by the ancient Jews (Deut. 23:18; II Kings 8:13; Rev. 22:15), so the term is used here derogatorily for Jewish Christians who were trying to impose on the church the requirements of the law of Moses]. Watch out for the evil workers! Watch out for those who mutilate the body meaninglessly! [Note: Paul here alludes, in a derogatory wordplay, to the Jewish practice of circumcision]. 3 For we [Christians] are the [true] circumcision [i.e., the real "Jews" in God's eyes. See Rom. 2:28-29]. We worship by means of God's Holy Spirit [i.e., are empowered and motivated by the Holy Spirit], and boast in [the person and work of] Christ Jesus, and [we] place no confidence in the flesh [i.e., in any outward ritual or status for salvation]. 4 However I, myself, have [reasons for such] confidence in the flesh. [But] if any other person has [reasons for placing] confidence in the flesh, I have more [reasons]. 5 [I was] circumcised eight days after I was born; [I am] from the nation of Israelites; from the tribe of Benjamin and of Hebrew ancestry [i.e., an outstanding Hebrew]. As far as the law of Moses is concerned, [I am] a Pharisee [i.e., a strict sect of the Jewish religion]. 6 As far as enthusiasm is concerned, I persecuted the church; as far as being righteous according to the law of Moses is concerned, I was without just blame.
7 However, those things which were [once regarded as] gain to me, I have [now] considered to be loss for [the sake of] Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything to be a loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [as] my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things. [I now] consider [all of] them to be trash, in order to gain Christ 9 and to be found in [fellowship with] Him, not having a righteousness of my own, acquired by observing the law of Moses, but one acquired through believing in Christ. This righteousness, which comes from God, is based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ [as Savior] and to experience the power [produced] by His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, 11 in order to, somehow, be raised out of the dead [i.e., to have never ending life].
12 [It is] not that I have already arrived at the goal [of spiritual maturity], or have already been made perfectly [righteous], but I am pushing onward in order to take hold of what Christ Jesus took hold of me for [i.e., to receive all that Christ intended for me]. 13 Brothers, I consider that I, myself, have not yet taken hold [of Christ's ultimate purpose for me]. But there is one thing that I am doing; I am forgetting about my past [See verses 5-7], and reaching forward to what lies ahead. 14 I am pushing onward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call [i.e., to heaven] from God in [fellowship with] Christ. 15 So, all of us who are mature [Christians] should think this way. And if you people think differently about anything, God will reveal that to you also. 16 So, we should continue living by the same [standard] that we have [already] attained. 17 Brothers, you people should join together in imitating me, and take note of those who are following my example. 18 For I have often told you before, and am telling you again with tears in my eyes, that many people are living as the enemies of the cross of Christ [i.e., their lives oppose the purpose of Christ's death]. 19 Their [ultimate] end is [spiritual] destruction; their god is their appetite; they boast of what they ought to be ashamed of, and they [constantly] think about worldly things. 20 But we are [really] citizens of heaven and we are waiting for a Savior [to return] from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly [physical] bodies and make them like His glorious body. [He will do this] according to the power that enables Him even to bring everything into submission to Himself.