Monday, January 2, 2012


12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal] or am already made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus, the Messiah, has laid hold of me and made me His own.
13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do-it is my one aspiration: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions, and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.
16 Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that. (Philippians 3:12-16).

12 Having stated that his conversion brought about a new assessment of his goals and gave him the overwhelming desire to know Christ ever more fully, Paul then explains how his present life is a pursuit in this new direction. But he does not want to be misunderstood as claiming that his conversion on the Damascus road has already brought him to the final goal. He has not yet received all he longs for, nor has he been brought to that perfection to which he has aspired. Perhaps there were those in Philippi who were claiming to have acquired already the consummation of spiritual blessings. But Paul knows that he must continue to pursue the purposes Christ had chosen him for. Spiritual progress is ever the imperative Christians must follow.

13 Paul now addresses the Philippians by the endearing title "brothers" and repeats the thought of v.12. He did not regard himself as having obtained the final knowledge of Christ and the fullest conformity to him. One thing, therefore, was the consuming passion of his Christian life. Using the metaphor of a footrace, Paul describes it as involving the continual forgetting of "what is behind" and the relentness centering of his energies and interests on the course that is ahead of him. "Forgetting" did not mean obliterating the memory of his past (cf. vv.5-7), but was a conscience refusal to let it absorb his attention and impeded his progress. He never allowed his Jewish heritage nor his previous Christian attainments (vv.9-12) to obstruct his running of the race. No present attainment could lull him into thinking he already possessed all Christ desired for him.

14 Continuing the metaphor, Paul likens his Christian life to pressing onward to the goal so as to win the prize. In applying the figure, the goal and the prize are virtually identical, though viewed perhaps from different aspects. Paul's goal was complete knowledge of Christ, both in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (v.10). When the goal was reached, this prize would be fully his. The calling "heavenward" may relate to the summons to the winner to approach the elevated stand of the judge and receive the prize. The word "called" is always used elsewhere by Paul to denote the effective call of God that brings people to salvation (1 Cor. 1:26).

15 In concluding this section, Paul exhorts those who are "mature" (1 Cor. 14:20) to think in harmony with what he has just said, and he promises that those who think differently about minor points will be enlightened by God if their attitude is right. By "mature," Paul is referring to a certain level of spiritual growth and stability in contrast to infants. If the Philippians believers are lax in their pursuit of spiritual goals or erroneously suppose they have already arrived, they need to understand Paul's declaration . And if they generally agree but still differ on some isolated point, Paul is confident that God will lead them to the truth.

16 No one, however, must wait for God to reveal the truth on all points before one begins to give oneself to spiritual growth. Each believer should exercise fully the degree of maturity already possessed. "Live up to" calls for Christians to maintain a consistent life in harmony with the understanding of God's truth they already have. Paul recognizes that Christians, though proceeding along the same path, may be at different stages of progress and should be faithful to as much of God's truth as they understand.

[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].



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