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,
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.
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,