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“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” ~Phil 3:10-16



All of us know that Paul was one of the authors of the New Testament epistles. He wrote the book of Romans which contained the foundational truths of Salvation. If there is any believer who is unsure or doubtful of his own salvation, Paul would definitely be the least likely one. But surprisingly, in the passage, he said, “somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”

Paul’s repeated emphasis of not having the confidence of the “resurrection from the dead,” has made this passage especially controversial. Some say that Paul was being humble and it was out of modesty that he declared himself not having attained salvation and therefore still working on it. However if we recall Paul’s rebuke against Peter’s hypocrisy (Gal 2:11-14), and the fact that it concerns the salvation and condemnation of one’s soul, why would he then use such an important truth to demonstrate his humility? Could it be possible that Paul did not foresee the dire consequences of making such a statement?

If we were to do some minor paraphrasing to this verse, the meaning of the verse would be made clear and the complete meaning of the passage would be brought out.

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, [becoming like him in his] resurrection from the dead.”

Paul was not referring to whether he had the confidence that his soul would be saved, rather he was saying, “I want to endure what the Lord has suffered, and to die the most painful and dishonorable death of Christ. By this, I hope to achieve what the Lord has achieved, the highest and most glorious resurrection!” Paul was referring to the resurrection of the last days when he would receive his rewards and crown of glory, which was the “better resurrection” mentioned in Hebrews 11:35. It was for this reason that Paul was willing to suffer the loss of all things; count them like rubbish that he might attain the same resurrection of the Lord – the highest and most glorious resurrection.