One of the threads in the fabric of the narrative of the story of Israel is Jewish self righteousness. Paul says of unbelieving Israel “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).
God’s salvation to the Gentiles reveals to the Jew that righteousness has nothing to do with Jewish identity, which comes by the Law. Instead, righteousness comes through the grace and mercy of God.
Israel was chosen by God to bring the knowledge of the Creator to the entire world, but Israel refused to cooperate, thinking they ONLY we’re the people of God. Paul corrects this notion throughout the book of Romans. For example, in 3:29 Paul asks the following: “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?” Paul then answers, “Yes of the Gentiles also…”
That God would give the Gentiles righteousness without the law (which gave the Jew his identity) was a major stumbling block for the pious within Jewry, for “how could this be, how can the uncircumcised be the people of God without being one of us?”
Israel rejected God’s righteousness because they were self centered and thought it revolved around them, rather than Him. This is the WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS Paul is addressing in Romans, which is not merely legalism, but that which had to do with Jewish national identity.
Now, notice carefully how the apostle Paul, a born again Jew, viewed his own credentials “as a Jew” in view of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Paul says the following in Philippians 3:
(2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, BEWARE OF THE CONCISION.
The concision is a reference to those who boast in Jewish identity.
3 For WE ARE THE CIRCUMCISION, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.
In contrast to the concision, the circumcision which worships God in the spirit, and rejoices in Christ Jesus, is a reference to those who have had their hearts circumcised through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul had chosen to boast in the circumcision of the heart rather than boast in the circumcision associated with his Jewish identity in the flesh. He had chosen to be numbered with the circumcised in heart, rather than the circumcised in the flesh. Paul says, “we have NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.”
(4) Though I might also have CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might TRUST IN THE FLESH, I more:
(5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
(6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul says of anyone who boasts in their flesh as a Jew, he could boast even more, and gives his credentials as to why he could boast after the flesh more then they.
(7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted LOSS FOR CHRIST.
(8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for THE EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST JESUS MY LORD: FOR WHOM I HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS, and do count them but dung, THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST,
(9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
(10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
(11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
(12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
(13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
(I4) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul counted all his credentials as a Jew in the flesh as nothing so that he might seek to win Christ. Those who are boasting in the “physical identity” of the Jews, are boasting in the flesh and not in Christ Jesus! Christ is the Savior of all men.