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Home » Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

Their Glory is their Shame

Submitted by on Friday, 7 November 2008No Comment
  • Reading IPhilippians 3:17-21; 4:1
  • Resp. Psalm: Psalm 122:1-2,4-5
  • Gospel Reading: Luke 16:1-8


Who was Paul talking about when he says "their glory is their shame?"  The context suggests that these same people are "enemies of the cross of Christ".  Is he still speaking of the "dogs" here, (See Philippians 3:1)  those who proclaim the gospel of circumcision instead of the Gospel of Christ?  I think that if we are to understand this passage, the context that begins from Philippians 3:1 should be taken into consideration. 

If the reference here are to those who promote a Judaized Christianity, then we can understand why Paul recalls them with bitterness.  It is their appearance in the communities he founded that has caused a lot of division and a turning away from the Gospel he preached.  His statement that "their God is their bellies" points us to who these "enemies of the cross" are:  they are itinerant preachers who –  like the seventy-two whom Luke tells us about — live from the kindness of Christian households.  They preach a gospel that is acceptable, not the gospel of the cross that Paul preaches, they glory "in their shame", that is, their circumcised flesh.  "Shame" here is to be understood as a euphemism, an acceptable way of referring to the male sexual organ.  Paul does something similar in 1 Corinthians 12:23 where he talks of  the body’s "less honorable" parts.   If this is the case (and I think it is), then how do we apply this verse from Paul?  Would it mean then, boasting about the stupid or sinful things people do, like the case of women and girls posting pictures of themselves drunk at FaceBook?  I think that it would be a convenient interpretation, that is, convenient for those who think themselves "righteous".  Paul however is thinking of something more fundamental:  the acceptance of the full gospel about Christ.  The "enemies of the cross of Christ" are those who water-down the gospel with ideas and customs that though valid for awhile are no longer so under the new dispensation of grace inaugurated in Christ.  They are the promoters of an outdated aspect of God’s plan.  And so if there is a link to these "enemies of the cross of Christ" and our times, look for it among gospel preachers who underline adherence to some custom or practise in the Old Testament that, like circumcision, belongs to an institution that has passed away.

Read an explanation of the Gospel reading here:  The Administration of Goods:  Christian Principles 101
Philippians 3:17-21; 4:1
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
317Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model.
18For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ;
19Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things.
20But our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,
21Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
41Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy and my crown; so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
Psalm 122:1-2,4-5
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
2Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem.
4For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.
5Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.
Luke 16:1-8
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods.
2And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.
3And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed.
4I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5Therefore calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?
6But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty.
8And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
Philippians 3:1
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1As to the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not wearisome, but to you it is necessary.
Philippians 3:1
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1As to the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not wearisome, but to you it is necessary.
1 Corinthians 12:23
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
23And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness.

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