Ver. 1. To write. From hence it would appear, says Grotius, that S. Paul had intended to have finished his letter at the end of the preceding chapter; but something new occurring to him, he added the two following chapter.
Ver. 2. Beware of dogs.† The Jews called so the Gentiles; and S. Paul now applies it to those among the Jews who spread false doctrine, who privately snarled and publicly barked against the true apostles. None deserve sharp reprehension more than heretical preachers.
--- Beware of the concision, or as some French translations, of false circumcision. S. Paul by derision makes use of this word, which signifies a cutting to pieces, or destruction. Wi.
[†] V. 2. Videte canes . . . Videte Concisionem, blepete touV kunaV . . . thn katatomhn. The Jewish circumcision at this time, says S. Chrys. (log. 1.) was merely a cutting off of the flesh: ouden allo h sarkoV tomh esti, kai katatomh.
Ver. 3. For we are the circumcision. We Christians now use the only profitable and commendable spiritual circumcision; which, to the Coloss. (ii. 11.) he calls the circumcision of Christ, and to the Rom. (ii. 29.) circumcision of the heart in the spirit.
--- Not having confidence in the flesh; i.e. in such carnal ceremonies. Wi.
Ver. 4-7. If any other thinketh he may have confidence in the flesh, in being of the Jewish race and of their religion, I more; i.e. I have greater reasons to glory than they have, being circumcised of the stock of Israel, &c.
--- But what things, &c. as soon as I was miraculously called to the knowledge and faith of Christ. Wi.
Ver. 9. I may be found in him not having my justice, which is of the law; i.e. not pretending to be justified either by my own works or by the works of the Jewish law, but by that which proceedeth from faith in Christ, and by his merits. Wi.
--- S. Austin expounds the sense thus: not that justice which is in God, or by which God is just, but that which is in man from God, and by his gifts. l. 3. cont. 2. ep. Pelag.
Ver. 10. That I may know him. This knowledge of Christ the apostle prefers to all honours and advantages accruing from his adherence to the synagogue.
Ver. 11. If by any means I may attain to the resurrection, which is from the dead; i.e. may attain to a happy resurrection, when the dead shall rise again. Wi.
--- This manner of expression does not betray any distrust or fear, but merely insinuates the difficulty of the enterprise, the uncertainty of success, and the ardent desire of the apostle, who sought by every means to arrive at this happiness, either by sufferings and labours, or even by martyrdom. S. Chrys. Estius.
Ver. 12. Not as though I had already attained the happiness I hope for, or am now become perfect as to that perfection in virtue, which I must always endeavour to increase in; but, like a person still running a race for a prize, I pursue and run as well as I can, I stretch myself with perseverance towards† the mark, forgetting that part of the course which I had made. Let all of us, though perfect as to the knowledge of the mysteries we are to believe, be of this mind, that we are still to advance in the way of Christian perfection; and if any of you be of another mind, and think otherwise, God will reveal to you and teach you this truth, that we may all continue in the same rule of doctrine and discipline. We may here take notice with S. Chrys. that it is not enough to believe, or have the true faith, but that we must strive and labour to the end in the way of perfection; secondly that S. Paul did not look upon himself absolutely certain of his salvation: and how much greater presumption would this be in us? Wi.
[†] V. 14. Ad destinatum, kata skopon diwkw. See S. Chrys. of the necessity of good works, (log. ia. p. 65) and of the uncertainty a man is always in of his salvation. p. 67.
Ver. 13. I do not count myself. That is, I do not suppose that vain security is sufficient to put my salvation out of doubt, and that Christ having died, nothing remains for me to do. No; I consider myself as a wrestler at the games, uncertain of success. Calmet.
Ver.17. Be followers of me, always in distrust of your own merits, and always eager to advance in perfection, as I am. It is a happy thing when a pastor can thus in all sincerity and simplicity address his flock.
--- He exhorts them to follow him in what he had taught them, and in the model of a good life, which he had set before them. He repeats to them, with tears, what he had formerly told them, that many walk and conduct themselves as enemies to the cross of Christ, to Christ crucified, by abandoning themselves to the pleasures of a sensual life, who glory in things they ought to be ashamed of. He hints at the disciples of Simon Magus, or of the Jewish doctors. Wi.