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“The True Circumcision” (Phil. 3:3)

In his passionate plea to watch out for opponents of the gospel (3:2–3), particularly any possible opponents who preach the necessity of circumcision, Paul prepares the Philippians to counter false teaching (literally, “the mutilation,” 3:2) by declaring, “We are the circumcision” (3:3a, my trans.). Although the image employed here is a masculine one, Paul’s reference to the “circumcision” should not be read in a way that excludes women from the fellowship. The text is reminiscent of the metaphorical image of a circumcised heart in Deuteronomy 30:6: “Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live” (cf. Deut. 10:16). In Philippians, Paul includes within “the circumcision” all “who worship God in spirit and glory in Christ” (3:3). Given the context of the letter, this qualifier would certainly include women (4:2–3)…

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