Monday, 6 February 2017
…if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:11
Paul had just said “being conformed to His death” while speaking of Christ. Christ died in sinless perfection, and Paul desired to follow him, as closely as he could, in this sinless state. Rather than living for the world and in the flesh, his desire was to be molded to be like Christ in all ways. To show his great desire in this, he now states, “…if, by any means.” This is not a statement of doubt, but rather a statement of humility. He was willing to put aside all things in this world in order to humbly and obediently follow Christ in all ways.
From there he says, “I may.” Again, this is not a statement of doubt. It is a statement of surety in what lies ahead. The word katantaó means “to arrive at,” such as at a goal. The English gives an ambiguity which does not exist in the Greek. What he is looking to arrive at is to “attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul uses a word for “resurrection” not found elsewhere, eksanástasis. It means “rising up to experience the full-impact of resurrection, i.e. thoroughly removed from the realm of death (the grave)” (HELPS Word Studies). The goal of Paul was one which he had dedicated his life to. He was assured of its coming, and therefore, he desired to be responsible with the time he had now as he awaited that glorious moment. He knew he would die and lay among the dead, but he also knew that he would rise from among those dead, out of the grave and out of the dead.
For him, and for those who are in Christ, there would be a departure, leaving behind those dead who are not in Him. The particular term “from the dead” is found only here and in 1 Peter 1:3 as it applies to Christ Jesus. This is the resurrection unto life for those who are in Christ Jesus. His resurrection is as a pledge that we too will follow Him. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the mark of that pledge, placing us in Christ and thus guaranteeing what has been promised.
Life application: Paul was assured of his position in Christ, and he desired to live for Christ because of what that meant. How troubling it is that we often are confused as to whether our salvation is really true or not. Let God be true, but every man a liar. He has promised; He will perform. And how sad it is that even if we believe His promise, we don’t live as if the promise is really ahead of us. Instead, we live for now. If the promise is ahead of us, then we really will meet up with it some wonderful day. Should we not be striving to emulate the Lord while we await its arrival?
Lord God, Your word promises resurrection from the dead for those who are in Christ. He rose, and that resurrection is now what we are guaranteed because of it. If we are in Him, and He is risen, then we too have the same true and promised-for hope. Let us not waiver in our convictions, but stand fast on Your word. And in this, we should then strive to emulate Him as we walk in this world. Help us to do so, and to be pleasing in Your sight now, just as we will be throughout the ages of ages. Amen.